Posts Tagged ‘Dave Duncan’

St. Louis Cardinals Add Brad Penny To Rotation

December 8, 2009

In my free agent primer, I wrote that Brad Penny and Randy Wolf had to stay in the National League in order to be successful.

Yesterday, one of those pitchers followed my advice.

Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals signed RHP Brad Penny to a one-year, $7.5 deal that includes another $1.5 million in incentives. With the Penny signing, the Joel Pineiro era officially comes to an end in St. Louis.

Penny signed with the Cardinals

Just like with Pineiro and Jeff Suppan, this is a classic Dave Duncan reclamation project in St. Louis. I actually like this move for the Cardinals.

As we saw last year with the Boston Red Sox, Penny couldn’t pitch in the American League. Penny had his moments in a Red Sox uniform like the six inning, six hits, no runs performance against the New York Yankees in April, but for the most part, Penny was terrible.

Once he went to the San Francisco Giants and to the National League, Penny starting pitching like it was 2007 all over again. With the Giants he posted a 2.59 ERA in 41 innings.

Pitching in Triple-A, I mean the National League will help any pitcher.

Here is what I see happening for Penny in 2010. He won’t strike out many batters , he will pitch to contact, and be very successful with the Cardinals.

I could easily see him going 15-9 with a 3.75 ERA and pitching around 180 innings. Of course, then he sign a three-year, $35 million contract at the end of the 2010 season and go 8-13 with a 4.90 ERA in 2011.

But for this year and $7.5 million this is a good deal for both Penny and the Cardinals.

Penny is 105-84 with a 4.14 ERA in 10 seasons pitching for the Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Red Sox, and Giants.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Cardinals Bring Back Tony LaRussa And Mark McGwire

October 26, 2009

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the St. Louis Cardinals are facing a franchise defining offseason. Well, their offseason got off to a great start today.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa have agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011. The Cardinals also got good news when pitching coach Dave Duncan agreed to return to the team as well.

LaRussa will be back with the Cards in 2010

LaRussa will be back with the Cards in 2010

But the big shock of the day was the announcement of Mark McGwire as hitting coach. McGwire will replace Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.

LaRussa has approached McGwire in the past about being a hitting coach, but McGwire always declined LaRussa’s invitations. This is a real interesting hire by the Cardinals.

Since McGwire made his famous “I am not here to talk about the past” speech during the 2005 congressional hearings, he has disappeared from the public eye.

It will be interesting to see if McGwire becomes a distraction with all the possible questions about steriods he might asked.”We are going to make Mark available,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “How he is going to answer questions is up to him.”

If I was McGwire, I would have one day where I would give the media a chance to ask me anything possible. After that–no more questions about steriods.

That strategy worked well for Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

The Cardinals can act like hiring McGwire is no big deal, but it is. This is a man who held the most sacred record not only in baseball, but in sports and then embarrassed himself on a national stage in front of Congress.

As far as what type of hitting coach McGwire will be? I have no idea. That is a wait and see.

McGwire has worked with major league hitters in the past, most notably Matt Holliday. That could help in re-signing the free agent leftfielder.

The Cardinals solved a big piece of their offseason puzzle today by bringing back LaRussa and Duncan. Now, if they can just re-sign Holliday and extend Albert Pujols’ contract, their offseason puzzle will be complete.

Cardinals Face Franchise Defining Offseason

October 13, 2009

Every year, whether a team won 90-plus games like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or a team’s season ended in April like the Washington Nationals, every team faces major offseason decisions.

Some decisions are solely made for the next season and some decisions can shape the course of the franchise for a years to come. Decisions can be made by trades, arbitration, and of course, free agency.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, they face an offseason of free agency that will define the course of their franchise for years to come.

The Cardinals have a myriad of impending free agents, including Matt Holliday, Joel Pineiro, Mark DeRosa, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, John Smoltz, Khalil Greene, and Todd Wellemeyer.

However, the most important free agent for the Cardinals is manager Tony LaRussa. LaRussa’s contract is up at the end of the month and if LaRussa doesn’t come back, it could set the Cardinals’ franchise back for years to come.

LaRussa is a free agent

LaRussa is a free agent at the end of the month

LaRussa gives the Cardinals credibility and credibility usually means winning. When players come to play for LaRussa, they know they are in a winning environment. Top players always want to play for him (unless your name is Scott Rolen).

Just think about the course of events if LaRussa leaves.

If LaRussa leaves, then pitching coach Dave Duncan leaves. Duncan is just as important to the Cardinals’ success as LaRussa. Duncan, time and time again is able to take mediocre pitchers and turn them into winners.

Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Mike Moore, Dennis Eckersly, Jeff Suppan, and Chris Carpenter all had their careers turned around by Duncan.

That allows the Cardinals to spend their resources on offensive players such as Larry Walker, Jim Edmonds, Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, and Albert Pujols.

Speaking of Pujols.

If LaRussa leaves at the end of the month, it could very possibly mean Pujols could leave after the 2010 season. Pujols is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and I would say right now there is an 85 percent chance he stays with the Cardinals.

If LaRussa leaves, then I would say that percentage goes down to 25. Pujols has only played for LaRussa in his career and has said that all he wants is for the Cardinals to put a competitive team on the field year after year. Pujols knows every year his teams have a chance of competing with LaRussa at the helm.

Do you think he is going to take a home-town discount playing for Eric Wedge (I am just throwing his name out there. He is not rumored to be going to the Cardinals if LaRussa leaves) or some second rate manager?

That is why LaRussa coming back is so important. Him leaving sets off a chain of events that could set the Cardinals into rebuilding mode after the 2010 season.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., GM John Mozeliak, LaRussa met for two hours yesterday reviewing the season.

It will be interesting to see what happens with LaRussa. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on LaRussa coming back and signing a new deal with the Cardinals.

The Cardinals just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Teams Should Stay Away From Joel Pineiro This Offseason

September 17, 2009

St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Coach Dave Duncan is one of the best pitching coaches in the game. As a matter of fact, he might go down as one of the best pitching coaches of all-time. Duncan has taken the term “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” to the extreme.

From Dave Stewart to Mike Moore to Chris Carpenter, Duncan has taken mediocre pitchers and transformed them into quality major-league starters. Duncan’s latest rags to riches story — Joel Pineiro.

Pineiro is not worth the investment

Pineiro is not worth the investment

Many forget that Pineiro was an up and coming stud with the Seattle Mariners back in the early 2000’s. In 2002 and 2003, Pineiro went a combined 30-18 with a 3.52 ERA. He looked like one of the rising pitchers in the game.

In 2004, Pineiro was shut down 21 starts into the season with a sore elbow and hasn’t been the same since. Quite frankly, since his 16-win 2003 season — he has stunk.

From 2003-2008, Pineiro’s record was 35-47. Very Jeff Weaver-like. However, Pineiro’s 2009 season has been a different story. Pineiro is 14-11 with a very respectable 3.31 and even has three complete games and two shutouts.

Pineiro’s story is all too familiar. Mediocre pitcher who finds success in his free agent year. Sounds a lot like Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, and Kyle Lohse’s story to me.

Lohse’s story is most similar to Pineiro’s. Lohse had two good seasons with the Minnesota Twins in 2002 and 2003. In those two seasons he went 27-19. From 2003-2007, Lohse went 32-48 and was just an awful pitcher.

Sound Familiar?

In 2008, Lohse went an amazing 15-7 with an ERA of 3.78. Lohse parlayed that season into a four-year, $41 million contract from the Cardinals. Cha ching!

I can’t believe the Cardinals, a seemingly smart organization fell for it. How quickly do you think Lohse signed that contract? Two seconds tops.

Guess what Lohse is doing this year? That’s right, he’s back to same awful pitcher we have known to grow to love. He is a Lohsian 5-8 with a 4.78 ERA. That a boy Kyle. I always knew you had it in you again.

Ironically, Pineiro is looking for a contract similar to Lohse’s this offseason. We all know what is going to happen. Some idiotic team is going to give him a three-year, $28 million contract and guess what is going to happen?

In his first year Pineiro is going to go 9-12 with a 4.65 ERA and his contract is going to hamstring that team for the next three years. It’s inevitable.

That’s why if I was a GM, I would stay away from Pineiro in the offseason.

I don’t need to see advanced statistics or anyother stats for that matter. I will just use the “eye test” on this one. And the eye test tells me, once a mediocre pitcher, always a mediocre pitcher.

One year doesn’t change that.

New Home For Old Man: John Smoltz Lands With Cardinals

August 19, 2009

For those of you who follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter know that I wrote on Tuesday “Look for the Cardinals to sign John Smoltz today. Mark DeRosa is recruiting him hard.”

Well, I would like to apologize for being a day and a half off. That is because John Smoltz signed with the St. Louis Cardinals today and not Tuesday.

Smoltz has a new home in St Louis

Smoltz has a new home in St Louis

The Cardinals will be responsible for paying about $100,000 for Smoltz’s services for the remainder of the year. If Joan Rivers can spend $100,000 on her face (her roast last week was great by the way), then the Cardinals can spend $100K gambling on John Smoltz bouncing back.

The Cardinals plan to use Smoltz as their number five starter going forward. I personally feel after watching every Smoltz start in a Boston Red Sox uniform that he can no longer start in the major leagues. National League or American League – it doesn’t matter.

Should he have an easier time pitching in the NL Central than the AL East? I would sure as heck hope so. Pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros should be easier than pitching against a good Baltimore Orioles’ lineup or a Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup.

But as I have said before, I see Smoltz as more of a right-handed specialist these days rather than a guy who can go three-to-four times through a lineup.

Can Smoltz get Troy Tulowitzki or Jayson Werth out in a big spot in the 8th inning in game five of the NLDS or NLCS? Yes, I think he can. But can he start Game Four against the Philadelphia Phillies and win? No, I don’t think he can.

The one thing Smoltz will have on his side will be Cardinals’ pitching coach Dave Duncan. If he can turn Kyle Lohse into a respectable pitcher, then he should be able to work wonders with Smoltz.

For the money the Cardinals are paying Smoltz, this is a very low-risk, high-reward signing.

Then again, that is what the Red Sox thought as well.