This 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. 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….
Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan have made comments last week about possibly moving some of the members of the bullpen into the rotation. When discussing the health of Jason Isringhausen, and that if he stays on schedule that he will resume his old duties as the Cardinals closer, prompted the obvious observation that Adam Wainwright would be back into the much depleted rotation. But even with Carpenter, Reyes, Well, and Wainie, that still leaves a spot. And with the Cardinals not signing anyone during the winter meetings, the possibility has been discussed of moving someone from the ‘pen to the rotation. The main one discussed was Looper, and LaRussa and Duncan even spoke to him about it after the World Series and he seemed open to it. They also mentioned Brad Thompson and Josh Kinney. I also added Chris Narveson and Josh Hancock, and would like to discuss the what if they did switch to starters scenarios one by one.
First a general comment on the prices being paid for pitching this off-season and the economics of baseball. I have no problem with premium money being paid for premium talent. But this off-season I have started to see some teams shell out some big bucks for mediocre talent. A .500 picther can attract upwards of $10 Million per year in some cases. I am glad that the Cardinals are willing to spen money only when it makes sense. Many of you may argue we should have won the Schmidt sweepstakes or should go harder after Zito, Suppan, etc. and I can’t say that I 100% disagree, but there comes a point, ecomically if for no other reason, when a ballclub can get the same result from promoting younger cheaper talent than they can in the Free Agent Market. I mean, why pay between $8 – 10 Million for a pitcher that will lose as many games as he will win. In most cases, a club’s top AAA Pitcher could come in and give you that type of success for the major league minimum salary of just a few hundred thousand dollars. I am not saying that day is here yet, for clubs to decide to do that, but the economics of the game will force this. As prices rise, demands will go down when the caliber of product is the same or less than the product you already own. This may be the thinking behind the comments of La Russa, Duncan, and Jocketty. I mean why pay more for Gil Meche (11-8) or for Jason Marquis (14-16) or Ted Lilly (25-24 the last two years) when you can get those same results for less. Has pitching become that hard to find? I jut don’t believe so. The Cardinals have Adam Wainwright & Anthony Reyes slotted for their rotation next year who made a combined $654,000. I know every team doesn’t have a Wainwright and Reyes, but there seems to be a big pay gap between $654,000 for two pitchers, compared to possibly $20 Million, and a not so big gap between the production. When that day comes, it will almost be as if you are moving people through a program similar to college programs, rebuilding when the pitchers become too expensive as if they are graduating seniors of sorts. Maybe the prices will have to come back down then. It is interesting and frustrating at the same time. I hope the Cardinals do sign another picther, but I am glad that they have limits to their spending. I almost laugh when I see teams bidding for Gil Meche as if he were Roger Clemens or Chris Carpenter. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. What if….
1. Adam Wainwright –
I think Wainwright will be a superstar whether he is the Closer or a Starter. His stuff is just too nasty not to be. I have watched that last at bat of the NLCS against Beltran over and over, and that last curve was just wicked. Same story in Game 5 of the World Series. He has a full arsenal of pitches and mixes them well. He was a starter for Memphis, pitching 182 innings in 2005, so he will just need to get readjusted to starting, he has the innings in him. Hands down, he would be the most successful of the pack if moved to the rotation, which is all but certain.
2. Braden Looper –
This one is interesting. His longest outing of his entire career was 3 innings, in this years’ NLCS. He has hundreds of appearences all in relief. I think he could be at least a .500 pitcher though, he has a good mix of pitches and the maturity not to get too rattled. This could go either way. If it didn’t work out, he is still a valuable member of the bullpen. He is a veteran with a good attitude and I would like to see what can happen here.
3. Brad Thompson –
He holds the Southern League record of 57.1 scoreless innings. He was a starter for most of his professional career, until making the big leagues. He could very easily slip back into that role, and has even made a spot start for the Cardinals in the past. He would be a good option to move into the rotation. He has gone for several innings several times for the Cards so stretching him out shouldn’t be that hard.
4. Josh Kinney –
Too soon to tell in my opinion. It wasn’t long ago that he was pitching in the independent leagues, and while he impressed me in the post-season, I am going to reserve judgement until I see more from him. I have seen him pitch in Memphis and St. Louis and I like what I see so far. Out of this group he would be a longshot to make the rotation if you had to choose one spot as it stands now. His talent is obvious though, by the way he carried himself in the post-season.
5. Chris Narveson –
I really like this guy. Kind of reminds me of John Tudor. He is a lefty with good location and movement. He started for Memphis this past year and sported a 2.81 ERA and a 8-5 record. On a lesser team, he would be in line for a chance at starting. It is too soon to just hand over a spot to him, he might be in the same spot that Brad Thompson was in when he first made the big leagues, bullpen by default. But one day, he very well could start. He is an option and I would maybe consider leaving him in Memphis if you don’t put him in the rotation, just to keep him used to starting. He is a future starter.
6. Josh Hancock –
He has started 12 games in his career, and I just threw him in here on a hunch. He stepped in and pitched really well on several occasions. He was our "oh ****" pitcher, when our starter would get roughed up and yanked earlier than expected a few times last year. But the flip side is, I have seen him get hit pretty hard too. The former Auburn standout is a good addition to any team and I think he would be able to make the jump to starter as far as endurance, that isn’t the issue. But he needs to add a pitch and work with Duncan if he were to ever be a full time starter. He is another long shot.
All in All, this may be unnecessary if the Cardinals acquire another starter or two. Either way, I see Wainwright as one of the starters. I would have loved to see him remain our closer, but that isn’t going to happen. I will easily get over it though, as I watch him become in time, one of the best pitchers in the league as a starter. I will write more about the rotation and bullpen, but for now, these are my thoughts.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there….
The Cardinals gave Chris Carpenter a 5 year, $63.5 Million Dollar contract extension, with an option for a 6th year that would bring the total deal to $77.5 Million. If the option is exercised, that would mean that Chris would be a Cardinal through at least the 2012 season. WOW!! Great move Walt, Great move Cardinals. He is the BEST pitcher in baseball, hands down, and has proven himself to be the ace among aces. I can’t say enough good things about him. He throws some of the nastiest stuff I have ever seen. His curveball is just mind boggling. His mature and reserved demeanor fit well with the LaRussa/Duncan way of thinking. I am SO glad that we have Pujols and Carpenter both signed to long term deals. With the winter meetings here, the Cardinals decided not to go out and jump on the "crazy train", but to reward on of the few starters they already had under contract for 2007. In my opinion this was a good move. When you seem money being thrown around, like $10 million a year for guys who have as many wins as losses in their careers, you have to wonder just how crazy the bidding would have gotten if we had allowed him to ever become a free agent. This was a wise move. A lot of Carinals fans are upset that we lost on Jason Schmidt, that will will probably lose on Suppan, and Zito as well. But look at it this way,
sometimes the best move that Walt could do is not to make one at all. True, we need some more starters, but we will find them at a reasonable price. It would make NO sense to me to pay a Suppan, Weaver,Meche, Woody, Eaton, Batista, etc more than Carp. If the season started today we would be fine. We would have Carpenter, Wainwright (I know I wrote an article on him being our closer, but it seems that they are intent on bringing Izzy back), Reyes, Wells, and someone at the fifth spot. I am VERY confident that we will sign another pitcher or acquire one through a trade, but worst case scenario, we would be fine. Alan Benes is in Memphis, Chris Narveson could do it, Brad Thompson could do it, even Braden Looper and Josh Kinney have been suggested. Besides, I am somewhat confident that we may re-sign Weaver to fill out the rotation. And knowing that LaRussa plans on putting Izzy back in the closer role has made me rethink my opion on Wainwright, which i will address in a future article. So go ahead, watch the Cubs and Astros spend CRAZY money and still be watching us win the division next year for the 4th year in a row. But the spending has to start to protect what we already have. That is why paying Carpenter and locking him up long term is about the best news I could ever report and comment on.
P.S. – I was standing in the stands in the picture above, watching the greatest 2 Cardinals Pitchers of all time throw out the ceremonial 1st pitch at the New Busch Stadium on April 10, 2006. Chris and Bob Gibson, now that would have been one heck of a duo…
With Walt Jocketty being forced to work miracles due to the modern economics of the game, coupled with the fact that the Cardinals only have 2 of the 5 starting pitcher roster spots filled, I can’t help but wonder if the Cardinals are overlooking a talent that is right under their nose. Alan Benes is a name I am sure all of you remember. He was a member of the Cardinals staff from 1995-2001. He came in 7th in Rookie of the year voting in 1996. The little brother of Andy Benes, they helped form a valuable part of the Cardinals rotation for much of the 90’s. He has certainly not lived up to his potential, but he is still plugging away as a pitcher for the Memphis Redbirds. The 6’5", 215 pounder from Indiana pitched in 30 games for the Redbirds in ’06, starting 4, and sporting a 4.75 ERA. Those aren’t exactly numbers that get you called up, but the fact that he was a major league starter for 7+ years for the Cardinals/Cubs has to count for something. In my opinion the Cardinals should consider him an option under certain scenarios. Let’s pretend that we are lucky enough to land a top teir free agent pitcher this off season like Zito or Schmidt (see my article entitled "Pitching, Pitching, Pitching"). Well landing a pitcher like that would no doubt strengthen our rotation, but it would also mean that we would have much less to spend on the other spots in the starting rotation. And I don’t need to tell you what kind of miracle worker Dave Duncan is with reviving pitchers’ careers in the past. Players that have lost the edge or fallen into the pit of mediocrity, have come to St. Louis, and flourished and shined brighter than ever. Players like Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Woody Williams, Cal Eldred, and most recently Jeff Weaver have found themselves again under Duncan’s tootilidge. All I am saying is that if we find ourselves in that good position of landing a Zito or Schmidt caliber pitcher, the money required to round out the rotation will be critical. Why not give a shot to Benes.
Why not invite him to spring training, and see how it goes. Worst case scenario, if it doesn’t work out, you have little to no investment. And if the Cardinals find themselves in need of bullpen help, I could see him easily taking Jorge Sosa’s spot. It would be difficult to **** as bad as Sosa did this year. I have seen him pitch this past year, and I can tell you he still has that competitive drive. So I say, give ol’ Alan another shot, at 34 he just might still have some left in his tank.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there….
It has always been said that pitching wins Championships. And we couldn’t have succeeded this post-season without Carpenter, Weaver, Suppan, and Reyes all stepping up at the right times and delivering BIG TIME. So what shape are we going to be in for 2007? Well, here is my take on things.
Our Fist Priority should be to sit down and talk extension with Carpenter. Right now, he is signed thru 2007 with an $8 million option for 2008. Carepenter is second maybe only to Pujols as far as importance to this team, so our number one priority should be to offer him a longer deal before we start spending with anyone else. It is good that we don’t have to worry about him for next year, but wouldn’t it be nice to have him for a long term deal. He has shown to be loyal in the past, and we put a lot of faith in him when we signed him from the Bluejays. So, i am hoping that this can be a two way street and we can sign him for a while. That being said, he is the ONLY starting pitcher from our 2006 opening day roster that is returning. Suppan, is probably going to go elsewhere in my opinion. I think that while we would love to have him back, the bidding will get crazy high after his display in the post-season. The Yankees have already expressed an interest in acquiring his services, so the writing may be on the wall. Mark Mulder would be wise to sign a one year "discount deal" with us, so he could bounce back from his injuries and lackluster performance in 2006. I still think that he is one of the top left handers in the game today. So he would be wise to do what Matt Morris did, sign a one year deal, show you can perform, THEN test the free agent pool. If he had had a good 2006, he would have more than likely commanded up to $12 Million a year. As it stands now, i doubt he will cash in to that extent if he leaves. Either way, we can’t count on him to return. He has already been talking to Baltimore. As his replacement, i would LOVE to get Barry Zito, although i haven’t heard so much as a word about that. Next you have Jeff Weaver, who replaced Sidney Ponson’s place in the rotation mid-season. Jeff has come back to being the pitcher he used to be, thanks in no small part to Walt Jocketty, Tony La Russa, and most of all Dave Duncan. So it would be nice to sign him too. But he is also in the same catagory as Suppan. A great post season display should make him attractive to pitching starved teams, particularly National League ones. I would say his chances to come back to St. Louis are at about 60% if I had to guess. The last of the starters from 2006 is Jason Marquis. I have always loved his bat, and his potential. But it became clear this year that he isn’t going to realize that potential under Duncan. So I think we have seen the last of Jason Marquis. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went somewhere closer to New York, where he is from. So where does that leave us after all that speculation? Back to where we started, Chris Carpenter. And that is it…So where is our staff going to come from. Well, it will come from him, young upcoming players in our system, and free agency. I doubt we will trade for one, but you never know with Walt. Here is what i would LOVE to see as our rotation in 2007:
1. Chris Carpenter
2. Jeff Weaver
3. Anthony Reyes
4. Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt
5. Woody Williams
That’s right Woody Williams. His agent has already contacted the Cardinals about him wanting to come back and play for us. Even at age 40, he still hasn’t lost a thing. He is more of a finesse pitcher who relies on location more than overpowering stuff, sort of like Suppan and Maddux. And i am positive he is in our budget. As far as Zito or Schmidt, i am just hoping. You never know, chances are we will go after one big name pitcher who is a free agent, so why not them. Noticeably absent from my starting rotation is Adam Wainwright. I will probably have a lot of people who will comment on this and disagree with me, but after watching him become only the 2nd rookie closer to close out a World Series, and display the maturity and stuff to be a closer against the best, i am left being thankful we didn’t have Izzy out there. Don’t get me wrong, I love Izzy. I even named my cat Izzy, but he eats WAY TOO MUCH payroll ($8,750,000 in 2006 compared to Wainwright’s $327,000). I mean come on, that is a no brainer. Especially after watching Izzy blow save after save this past year. I am sure he could land somewhere, maybe we could deal him for a starter or an outfielder, but he is the one place where you could free up a TON of money.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there…..