From the moment we first saw Duncan, my wife and I nicknamed him "Slop". The only thing more mammoth than his Homerun potential was the gigantic wad of tabacco always being jostled around in his mouth. His tounge was always moving, and thus "Slop" was born. Being from Memphis, I got to see a lot of him, and just knew that he was destined to be great. "Slop" and John Gall provided some pop in the Memphis Redbird’s lineup. So when Duncan finally got his chance this year, I was smiling as I told everyone, "I told you so…". I am getting a little sick of people saying we should trade him, or that he ***** defensively. I am here to tell everyone: Duncan is a big piece of the Cardinals’ future. His defense will improve. You have to remember, his natural position is 1st Base, and he is learning the outfield in the Major Leagues for the most part. Yes, he looks like a drunk ballerina at times going back on fly balls. Nothing that a little fungo bat and some practice can’t fix. I am telling you, he is not only going to be a good player, he will be All-Star callibar. In only 280 at bats, he shelled out 22 HR’s. Some players get twice that many at bats, which would have put him at 44. He probably plays rightfield a little more skillfully than left, because of the similar angle from that of playing 1st Base, but with Encarnacion in Right, he will probably see a lot of time in Left. I love Tony LaRussa, but I am very critical about the way he would often sit him against lefties. Give the man a chance to play….EVERYDAY!! He isn’t a strain on salary, he provides power, and his defense can only improve. Just think if the Twins had given David Ortiz more of a chance, what he could have done to their lineup. He came up with a similar reputation, a less than average defensive player with incredible power. Chris Duncan should patrol our outfield for years to come.
I have read a lot of people suggest that we dangle him as trade bait for a pitcher to an american league team where he could play DH. In my opinion, that is silly. Whoever you get that would be worthy of a Chris Duncan would no doubt cost a lot more, and then you have to replace him in the outfield. Tony LaRussa used Speizio, Duncan, Wilson, Taguchi, Schumaker, Encarnacion, Edmonds, among others, and everybody still got their at bats. Along with Wainwright and Reyes, I think Duncan is our among our top prospects. His power and batting will no doubt provide some pop alongside Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, etc. Give the guy a break, I can’t think of anyone who became a skilled outfielder overnight. Chris Duncan, has developed into the kind of power hitter that we need in St. Louis. His defense will improve, mark my words.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there….
Since 1982, The St. Louis Cardinals have basically only had three Centerfielders. Willie McGee patrolled the astroturf in Center for the Cards during the 80’s, Ray Lankford was perched there in the 90’s, and Jimmy Ballgame this decade. And speaking as a life long Cardinals fan, I can tell you that there in NO ONE i would rather have in Centerfield than Jimmy. He is probably my favorite Cardinals player of all time. As I am sitting here writing this article, I look around at my office, and there are framed pictures of Jimmy all over my walls. The catch against the Reds on July 6, 2004 where he went up over the wall; The Homerun in Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS (which is probably my favorite Cardinals moment of all time); The catch the next night in Game 7 to save the season. In my opinion he is one of the best Centerfielders of all time. His flashy glove play has earned him Gold Gloves year after year, and he has hit some of the most dramatic Homeruns in the history of the franchise. I would have hated to see him leave after the sub par year he had. He battled through multiple injuries, still putting up decent numbers (.257 avg., 19 Hr’s, 70 RBI’s in 110 Games), to become the leader on and off the field that helped carry the team to their World Series Title. He finally got his redemption for 2004. He Finally got his World Title. So how could he possibly go anywhere else?
Well the answer is money and today’s baseball economics.
Walt Jocketty had three options in regards to Jimmy. First, he could buy out the option on Jimmy’s contract for $3 million and Jimmy would walk. Secondly, he could exercise the option and Jimmy would come back, but at a price of $10 million. This would have spent a lot of money that we need to save for other moves this offseason. The last option was to sit down and re-negotiate a new deal. And that is what they did, nailing out a two year deal. He will earn $8 million in each of the next two years, and then receive $3 million spread out from 2010-2019. This was the best possible outcome to the question of Jimmy and the Cardinals. So here’s to Jim Edmonds, who will go down in my book, as the best Cardinals Centerfielder of all time.
Well, as you know, Walt Jocketty is going to have some serious decisions to make this offseason. One of the main ones, and one that i would like to discuss here, is whether or not to keep Jim Edmonds. He has an option year on his contract that the Cardinals can exercise for $10 Million, or a $ 3 Million buyout. So, if we were to send him walking, we would have to find someone as good or better for $7 Million or it wouldnt make sense. Personally, Jim is probably my favorite Cardinal, and i would love to see him come back for another year. He is a very streaky player offensively, and in my opinion, his numerous injuries prevented him from really getting into the type of groove he is capable of. He still put up decent numbers, despite missing a lot of playing time. At 36, i would argue that he is still the best defensive centerfielder in the game. I know I am probably going to have that opinion challenged, but all things considered, he is an eight time gold glover that also provides the kind of leadership that you can’t measure with statistics. I know that it will cost the Cardinals, but in my opinion there are other areas where we can be frugal, but Jimmy isn’t one of them…Any thoughts, anyone?