Posts Tagged ‘Matt Holliday’

Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

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

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Cardinals Keep Matt Holliday, Sign Him To Seven-Year Deal

January 6, 2010

It’s really hard to keep a good man down.

After super agent Scott Boras was only able to get Adrian Beltre a one-year deal for $9 million, you just knew he was going to come back with a vengeance in his next contract negotiation.

And come back with a vengeance, Boras did.

As first reported by SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Boras client Matt Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million contract. The seventh year is a vesting option and each year of the contract will pay Holliday $17 million.

This is a huge win for Boras’ camp.

If you really think about it, Boras got the Cardinals to pony up $120 million when there was no other team even remotely interested in Holliday. Essentially the Cardinals bid against themselves.

Boras was hell-bent on getting Holliday more on an annual basis than what Jason Bay got. As usual, Boras got what he wanted. Holliday’s annual salary is $500,000 more than what Bay will get.

Holliday is staying in St Louis

I understand the money, but I don’t understand the years. Seven years is a lot to commit to Holliday, who will be 30-years-old next week. If no one else was bidding for Holliday, then why give him the two extra years?

For the Cardinals, I get why they had to sign Holliday.

At the beginning of the offseason, I had the Cardinals, along with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the three teams whose offseason was more important than any other teams.

I felt the Cardinals’ offseason was extremely important to the overall direction of the franchise because not only was Holliday a free agent, but manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan were free agents as well.

Not to mention that Albert Pujols is a free agent in two years and the Cardinals have to show a commitment to winning in order for Pujols to stick around after the 2012 season. So far, the Cardinals have done everything you could possibly ask them to do in terms of showing a commitment to winning now and in the future.

They re-signed LaRussa and Duncan (who might be the biggest key to the Cardinals’ success), they replaced Joel Pineiro with Brad Penny, which I like, and they made a serious commitment to Holliday. Holliday gives the Cardinals a legitimate bat to hit behind Pujols.

Holliday did hit .353 with 13 home runs and a Pujolsian 1.023 OPS in 63 games last year for the Red Birds, so it’s not like the Cardinals gave $120 million to Craig Paquette.

The Cardinals still have some holes to fill, like a third baseman (Miguel Tejada?), but they have filled all of their important holes this offseason.

The question that remains for the Cardinals is can they compete on a long-term basis with two players taking up a majority of their payroll?

The Cardinals aren’t a big market team, but they aren’t a small market team either. They are right in the meaty part of the curve. Their payroll usually settles in around the $95 million mark.

Pujols is a free agent at the end of the 2012 season. He will make $16 million in that final year. Pujols can realistically ask for $35 million a year if he wanted to.

If Alex Rodriguez is worth $32 million, then Pujols has every right to ask for more than ARod. But lets say that Pujols accepts a home-town discount and signs an extension for $25 million a year and the Cardinals’ payroll bumps up to $110 million in 2013.

With Holliday making $17 million and Pujols making $25 million, can the Cardinals compete with two players taking up 38 percent of the team’s payroll?

I think they can.

However, it’s going to take a major commitment to restocking their minor league system. They traded away the majority of their top prospects in the Holliday and DeRosa trades.

The Cardinals right now have a farm system that ranks towards the bottom in baseball.

The Cardinals are going to need some young talent to come through their system in order for the Cardinals to be competitive with a $110 million payroll and two guys taking up a significant portion of that payroll.

Holliday has a career .318 average with 152 home runs and a .933 OPS in six seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s and Cardinals.

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

New York Yankees Steal Javier Vazquez From The Braves

December 22, 2009

As if there is anymore reason to hate the New York Yankees.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees have acquired RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Boone Logan for OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mike Dunn, and RHP Arodys Vizcaino.

So let me understand this and I think I do.

The Braves had a surplus of pitching and were looking to trade either Derek Lowe or Vazquez to acquire a much needed bat. Vazquez had more value because he is younger than Lowe and only has one year remaining on his contract, while Lowe has three more years.

Vazquez returns to the Yankees

So the Braves trade the guy with the most value to the Yankees and are only able to get a fourth outfielder in Cabrera? My head is going to explode.

I have watched Cabrera for the last three years and I don’t need to see any stats telling me how good he is. Cabrera is a mediocre, fourth outfielder.

If Cabrera played on the San Diego Padres or the Cincinnati Reds nobody would ever hear a word about him, but because he is a “Yankee,” people think he is a good baseball player. If you think he is good, then you are just a Yankee homer, or well, that would be the only reason.

I can’t believe the Braves–a pretty smart organization–fell for it.

Like I said, I have watched Cabrera on a regular basis over the last three years and he has ZERO baseball IQ. He has zero baseball IQ and has limited ability–that is a bad combination. He was just an extreme product of the powerful Yankee lineup.

I will say one positive thing about Cabrera. He does have a very good arm.

He is going to go to the Braves and hit .265 with nine home runs and have an OPS around .700. Those are stats someone like Ryan Church could have put up.

The Braves also received Vizcaino, who was the Yankees’ No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America. Dunn hasn’t been ranked in the top-10 of Yankee prospects over the last two years by Baseball America, but was so prized he couldn’t be included in the Curtis Granderson trade.

Dunn is nothing more than a left-handed reliever. Once again, the Yankees’ hype machine of prospects does its job.

For the Yankees, this is one steal of a trade. I know Yankee fans have negative thoughts about Vazquez because he faded at the end of the 2004 season and gave up the grand slam to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the ALCS.

But the Yankees traded for Vazquez in 2003 to be their No. 1 or 2 starter in 2004. Now they have traded for Vazquez in 2009 to be their No. 4 starter in 2010. This time Vazquez is coming here with very little pressure on him.

Think about it. There are only two pitchers since 2004 to pitch 1,000 innings and have 1,000 strike outs and Johan Santana is one. The other one is now the No. 4 starter on the Yankees.

And for those of you Yankee fans who are concerned with Vazquez going from the National League to the American League, here is a juicy nugget for you.

In eight years in the NL and four years in the AL, Vazquez has the same K/9 rate (8.1), almost the same HR/9 (1.1 to 1.2), the same hits/9 (8.9), and almost the same WHIP (1.24 to 1.26).

As you can see, there is virtually no difference between AL Vazquez and NL Vazquez.

This deal also now opens up the left field spot for the Yankees. The Yankees could bring back Damon, or of course, sign Matt Holliday or Jason Bay to really stick it to the rest of baseball.

The Yankees acquired Granderson and Vazquez and didn’t have to give up Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Jesus Montero, or even Austin Romine.

The World Series champs have gotten even better this offseason.

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

Arbitration Roundup

December 2, 2009

For those of you who are not aware, yesterday at 11:59 pm est was the last day at teams could offer their free agents arbitration. Once a team offers arbitration to a player, that player has until Dec. 7 to accept.

A team would offer arbitration to a player–especially to a Type A or a Type B free agent because that team then would receive draft compensation as a result of that player signing with a new team.

A great example of this is what we saw this morning.

Since Billy Wagner signed with the Atlanta Braves and he was a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration, the Boston Red Sox will receive the Braves’ first-round pick (20th overall) and a supplemental pick in 2010.

Here is a list of the players who were offered arbitration by their current clubs. This list is courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.

Type A Free Agents (10 players)

Chone Figgins

Figgins was offered arbitration by the Angels

John Lackey
Jose Valverde
Marco Scutaro
Mike Gonzalez
Rafael Soriano
Matt Holliday
Billy Wagner
Jason Bay
Rafael Betancourt

Type B Free Agents (13 players)

Justin Duchscherer
Rod Barajas
Joel Pineiro
Mark DeRosa
Adrian Beltre
Ivan Rodriguez
Marlon Byrd
Brian Shouse
Gregg Zaun
Jason Marquis
Brandon Lyon
Fernando Rodney
Carl Pavano

Yesterday was a good day for guys like Bengie Molina, Jermaine Dye, LaTroy Hawkins, and Kevin Gregg, who are all Type A free agents. Since these players were not offered arbitration and will not cost a first-round draft pick, they become much more attractive for teams to sign.

My predictions are that Molina ends up with the New York Mets and Dye ends up with the San Francisco Giants.

Yesterday was a bad day for a player like Rafael Betancourt. With him being a Type A free agent and offered arbitration by the Colorado Rockies, he is going to have a hard time finding work.

It’s hard to justify giving up a first-round pick for a middle reliever, who has been up and down for much of his career. My guess is he ends up back with the Rockies in 2010.

After Dec. 7, we will start to see the dominoes start to fall in the free agent market.

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

Free Agent Primer: What To Look For This Offseason

November 19, 2009

At 12:01 tomorrow morning, the free agent signing period begins in baseball. Will you see players signing with teams at 12:05 like in the NFL and NBA? No, you won’t.

This will be a very long offseason in baseball. Just like last year, you will see some quality players still available going into the month of February. And just like last year, you are going to see GM’s try to wait out players hoping to get their version of a Bobby Abreu deal.

With the free agent signing period just a mere 12 hours away, here is a free agent primer on this year’s batch of free agents.

Best Free Agent Starting Pitcher: John Lackey. The same people who are concerned with Lackey being “injury prone” are the same people who thought Adrian Peterson was “injury prone” coming out of Oklahoma.

Kind of silly.

Best Free Agent Hitter: Matt Holliday. Holliday is the best hitter in a weak free agent hitting class. I am not sold on Holliday being paid like a franchise player, but he will be.

Best Free Agent Relief Pitcher: Rafael Soriano. Soriano is only 30-years-old and is entering the prime of his career. 12.1 K/9 in 2009 is very impressive.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust: Marco Scutaro. I am sorry, but I just don’t see it from this guy. He has been a scrub all his life and now at 34-years-old he is worth a mutli-year deal? No thanks.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust II: Chone Figgins. This is Juan Pierre Part II. Some team is going to give this guy a four-year, $42 million deal and regret it from the first day. In the third year of this deal he will be a pinch runner off the bench.

Biggest Free Agent Starting Pitcher Bust: Joel Pineiro. Back in August I wrote about how teams should stay away from Pineiro. My feelings towards him haven’t changed. He has Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse written all over him.

Biggest Free Agent Relief Pitcher Bust: Brandon Lyon. If a team signs Lyon as an eighth inning, set-up guy, I have no problem with that. But if a teams signs him to be their closer, all bets are off.

If you go into 2010 with Lyon as your closer, you are pretty much telling your fan base we have no shot to win in 2010.

Perfect Match Most Likely To Happen: Mark DeRosa to the Philadelphia Phillies. When you look at the Phillies team and then you look at the type of player DeRosa is, this is a perfect match. DeRosa is a “baseball player” and on a team filled with “baseball players,” DeRosa fits in perfectly.

Perfect Match Most Likely NOT To Happen: Orlando Hudson to the New York Mets. Hudson wanted to play for the Mets last year and it didn’t happen. He wants to play for them again this year and it won’t happen again.

Hudson is just what the Mets need, but since Luis Castillo and his horrific contract are holding down the fort at second base, Hudson will need to look for work somewhere else.

Biggest Free Agent Surprise: Jason Bay will not be back with the Boston Red Sox. As I told my buddy Odie, Bay is like the girl in high school who appears all sweet and innocent, but has slept with the entire football team.

Bay won't be a Red Sock in 2010

Everyone thinks because Bay is a soft-spoken nice guy and has thrived in Boston, he will just accept whatever Theo Epstein offers him and money doesn’t matter–not the case. I think Bay gets a five-year deal from another team and takes the years and the money and runs.

And I wouldn’t fault him for that.

Player Who Will Make The Most Money Who You Never Heard Of: Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is the 22-year-old Cuban defector, who is a starting pitcher and just happens to throw 100 mph. It looks like it will be a two-team race for Chapman’s services–the Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

This is Jose Contreras Part II.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter: Xavier Nady. Last year, I correctly predicted that Russell Branyan would be the 2007 version of Carlos Pena–a journeyman guy, who finally gets a chance to start and has a big year.

Nady is that free agent this year. Let a small market team sign him to a one-year deal, let him play 1B/DH and watch him hit 30 home runs.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter Part II: Troy Glaus. Glaus is relatively young at 33 and just two years ago hit 27 home runs and had an .856 OPS. Can he play third at this point in his career? Probably not.

But he can probably play first or DH and still be a power threat at a very low-cost.

Best Low-Rick, High Reward Pitcher: Ben Sheets. Sheets missed all of the 2009 season because of flexor tendon surgery. But Sheets should be 100 percent healthy by the start of spring training and I think could have an impact in 2010.

Remember, Andy Pettitte had the same surgery in 2004 and he has fully recovered from the injury. A team like the Texas Rangers would be wise to sign him to an incentive laden deal.

Pitchers Who Have To Stay In The NL In Order To Be Successful: Randy Wolf and Brad Penny. American League teams should really stay away from these guys. Hopefully both of these guys know where their bread is buttered and won’t pull a Jeff Weaver after the 2006 season.

Bedard won't work in New York or Boston

Big Market Teams Should Stay Away: Erik Bedard. Bedard just strikes me as a guy who would rather pitch in Kansas City and not be bothered than pitching in a pennant race in New York of Boston.

Worst Pitcher To Be This Offseason: Kevin Gregg. Gregg is a Type A free agent and he stinks. Very bad spot to be in.

Worst Hitter To Be This Offseason: Jermaine Dye. Dye is a Type A free agent, is 37-years-old, and can’t play a lick of defense. He is a DH in a strong DH market. I think it will be a while before a team looks at Dye.

Hitter Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Mike Cameron. Despite being 37-years-old, all Cameron is going to do is play a Gold Glove caliber center field, hit around .265, and hit 20-25 home runs.

Something tells me because of his relationship with CC Sabathia, Cameron signs with the Yankees on a one-year deal.

Pitcher Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Jon Garland. Why Garland was sitting the bench, while Hiroki Kuroda was starting playoff games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year is beyond me.

I know wins for pitchers are overrated, but all Garland does is win. That does count for something. He is going to win games and pitch 200 innings. Teams could do a lot worse.

The Milwaukee Brewers would be smart to sign him.

Best Utility Player: Jamey Carroll. Great club house guy, who can play second, third, left, and right. Every team could use a player like Carroll on their roster.

Non-Tender Candidate Sleeper: Kelly Johnson. On December 12th, hundreds of players will not be tendered contracts. The sleeper out of this bunch–Kelly Johnson.

Johnson was put in Bobby Cox’s doghouse in Atlanta in 2009, but in 2007 he had an OPS of .831 and in 2007 he had an OPS of .795. He is a classic change of scenery guy.

You can find a full list of this year’s free agents here.

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

A Perfect Fit: Bobby Abreu Re-signs With Angels

November 6, 2009

I wrote last week there were three teams whose future would be dramatically affected by what happens this offseason. Those three teams were the New York Mets, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

For the Angels, they are facing an offseason where their core group of players from years past and present were free agents to be. Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Vladimir Guerrero, and Bobby Abreu are all potential free agents.

With that many key free agents, the Angels have to figure out quickly, who is going to be part of their core group in the future.

Bobby Abreu

Abreu will be back with the Angels

Yesterday, the Angels made it clear who they want to be part of their core group for 2010 and for the future.

According to Ed Price at AOL Fanhouse, Bobby Abreu re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim yesterday. The deal is worth $19 million over two years with vesting option for 2012.

This was such a perfect fit for both Abreu and the Angels, that it was good business to get a deal done.

As we all know, Abreu took a discounted deal at $5 million to come to the Angels last year. For that $5 million all he did was hit .293/.390/.435 with 15 homeruns and 30 SB’s.

According to Fangraphs, Abreu’s value to the Angels last year was around $11 million. Thus making Abreu on of the best free agent bargains in baseball last winter.

But Abreu’s value to the Angels went beyond numbers. Abreu taught the Angels hitters how to be patient at the plate. He taught them how to work the count and how to look for their pitch more often.

Thanks to the Angels new found approach, the Angels led baseball with a .285 team batting average. Their team OBP also increased by 20 points from 2008 to 2009 (.330 to .350) thanks to Abreu.

Now the Angels have to figure out how to replace Figgins, Guerrero, and Lackey. Knowing how the Angels operate, I am confident in saying they will figure it out and make the best decision possible.

And one last note about this signing. Yesterday was a good day for Jason Bay and Matt Holliday. With Abreu now out of the way, Bay and Holliday are by far and away the two best hitters on the market.

Abreu’s signing only increases their leverage to teams who are looking for an offensive player.

Hideki Matsui Powers New York Yankees To World Series Championship

November 5, 2009

If Mark Teixeira doesn’t beat you, then Alex Rodriguez will. If Alex Rodriguez doesn’t beat you, then Jorge Posada will. And if Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Posada don’t beat you, then Hideki Matsui will.

Playing in perhaps his final game as a New York Yankee, Matsui went 3-for-4 with a homerun, a double, a single, and six RBI as the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 to win their 27th championship.

Matsui did the majority of his damage against Phillies’ starter Pedro Martinez, who didn’t have much last night. Martinez, who was pitching on five days rest, which was short rest for him, really couldn’t get going.

In the second inning, after walking Rodriguez to lead off the inning, Martinez missed his spot by at least four inches to Matsui on a 3-2 pitch and Matsui promptly hit one into the rightfield seats.

In the third inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Matsui came up to the plate again. And again Martinez missed his spot. Martinez, trying to throw a fastball high and outside, threw a fastball outside, but not high enough.

Matsui served a single to left-centerfield to make the score 4-1 and that was the back breaker in my opinion.

While Matsui was driving in the runs, Andy Pettitte wasn’t allowing any runs to the Phillies. So much for not being able to pitch on three days rest.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte came up big for the Yankees yet again

Pettitte pitched with a bend, but don’t break mentality last night. Pettitte walked five and gave up four hits over 5.2 innings, but never gave up the big hit.

Here are some other observations from last night:

The Phillies biggest fear in this World Series came to light last night–nobody except Cliff Lee could win a game for the Phillies.

After Matusi’s two-run single in the third, I couldn’t believe Charlie Manuel left Martinez in the game to face Posada.

Ryan Howard struck out for a 13th time last night breaking Willie Wilson’s World Series record of 12 set back in 1980.

I can’t believe that more was not made of Shane Victorino’s misplay on the Derek Jeter linedrive in the third. That was a huge play. The way the Yankees were playing, you can’t give them four outs in an inning.

Great job last night by Chad Durbin keeping it close. 0.1 innings, two hits, one walk, and three runs.

While Matsui might have won the World Series MVP award, Damaso Marte was just as valuable in this series.

Marte’s strike out of Chase Utley in the seventh was the nail in the coffin for the Phillies.

Of course, Marte came on to clean up Joba Chamberlain’s mess. How many times did I have to write that this postseason. Someone explain to me why Chamberlain is the most hyped pitcher in the game again?

Melky Cabrera has a World Series ring and Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, and Don Mattingly don’t. Unreal.

Back in March, Gary Sheffield was deciding between the New York Mets and Phillies. The Phillies really could have used him as their DH in this series.

Both teams were playing eight on eight tonight. Brett Gardner = automatic out for the Yankees. Ben Francisco = automatic out for the Phillies.

The Yankees become the first team since the 1991 Minnesota Twins to win a World Series using a three-man pitching staff.

5,000 kids in Long Island, who were Mets fans yesterday, are now Yankee fans today. They came into class today wearing red Yankee hats and a fake Chamberlain jersey.

Matsui will be replaced in the Yankees’ lineup next year by Matt Holliday. Damon will move to DH.

Now all of a sudden Joe Girardi is a genious.

Yankees’ President Randy Levine said in his post-game interview that George Steinbrenner was the first owner to go into Japan when they signed Matsui. Somebody should tell him A. Hideki Irabu played for the Yankees in 1997 and B. Ichiro Suzuki came into the league two years before Matsui.

How many times did the Yankees’ front office try to get rid of Pettitte over the last 10 years? Just proving that they are good business men, but terrible baseball men.

Pedro Feliz killed the Phillies this game. Three times up with RISP and 0-for-3. He gets a hit in any of those AB’s, it’s a different game.

How awesome was Carlos Ruiz this postseason? Just awesome. Such a good little player.

Raul Ibanez had a tremendous AB versus Rivera in the eighth inning. He worked hard for that double.

For the final out of the World Series, the Yankees had Jerry Hairston Jr., Gardner, and Nick Swisher in the outfield. Just goes to show you, you never know who is going to play a role in the World Series in April.

Well, with that the baseball season officially comes to an end. I’ll be doing a year in review in the upcoming days and I will be doing a what to look for this offseason post as well.

It’s one in the morning and I need some sleep. Have a good night folks.

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.

Dodgers Win Game Two: Matt Holliday Not The Only One To Blame For Cardinals Loss

October 9, 2009

The St. Louis Cardinals, a team many picked to win the World Series is on the brink of elimination after yesterday’s stunning 3-2 loss at Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Dodgers scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in their best-of-five series with the Cardinals. The easy target for this loss for the Cardinals is LF Matt Holliday.

Holliday made a crucial error in Game 2

Holliday made a crucial error in Game 2

In case you missed it, the Cardinals were leading 2-1 with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the ninth. James Loney hit a routine linedrive to leftfield, but Holliday didn’t see the ball, the ball hit him right in the bread basket and the ball dropped in.

“I didn’t see the ball,” Holliday said. “Obviously, I can catch a ball that’s hit right at me. It’s very difficult to swallow. We had a chance to win the game. It was unfortunate that it happened when it did.”

Holliday’s drop opened the floodgates for the Dodgers and they never looked back. Now it’s going to be easy to blame Holliday for this loss. Afterall, he did make the crucial error in the bottom of the ninth inning.

However, Holliday’s error was just as small piece in yesterday’s puzzle. Remember, even after Holliday’s error, there were still two outs and a runner on second. There was still plenty of opportunities for the Cardinals to get out of that inning with a win.

The reality is the Cardinals are playing bad baseball.

Outside of Adam Wainwright, who has been the only Cardinal to show up in this series, everyone was to blame for this loss.

Let’s talk about the fact that the Cardinals were 0-9 with Runners In Scoring Position yesterday and are just 3-22 for the series.

Someone should tell Brendan Ryan and his stupid mustache that the series started two days ago. He couldn’t get a hit in a big spot if his life depended on it right now.

Let’s talk about Colby Rasmus’ horrific baserunning mistake in the top of the seventh. After Rasmus doubled home Mark DeRosa to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, Rasmus, for reasons only known to him tried to advance to third on the throw home.

Rasmus was gunned out at third for the first out of the inning. You can never, ever, ever, ever make the first out at third base–especially in that situation. I thought that was one of the biggest plays of the game.

LaRussa was so upset, it was like someone screamed “last call!!!” at the bar.

Let’s talk about Ryan Franklin, who had the same look on his face as Calvin Schiraldi did in Game Six of the 1986 World Series. You know, that “I would rather be anywhere but here” look on his face.

Let’s talk about Yadier Molina and his pathetic attempt to block a curveball in the dirt in the ninth inning. For a guy who is supposed to be the “best defensive catcher” in the game, that was an inexcusable play.

Bottom line is the Cardinals have done everything that can to give these games to the Dodgers. Now, I don’t want to act like the Dodgers have done nothing in this series. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

Let’s especially give credit to the Dodgers’ bullpen. For the second game in a row they completely shutdown the Cardinals in the late innings. The George Sherrill acquisition is getting better and better with each passing game.

The Dodgers have taken advantage of the opportunities given to them and have taken full advantage of it. That’s why they are up 2-0.

Game Three is Saturday at 6:07. Here is something to chew on Cardinal and Dodger fans. No NL team has come back from a 2-0 deficit in the division series era. It has been done four times in the AL.