Friday, July 24, 2009

Last Holliday

No, it's not an article about that wonderful Queen Latifah film.

It is an article about what I feel is the biggest mistake the Cardinals have made in recent memory. This post may drone on for a bit, which should make up for my general lack of participation on this blog, however I only post when I feel strongly about something, and I feel the need to make my opinion known on this matter. John Mozeliak did make one good move this week, shipping the pathetic mess known as Chris Duncan off - and actually getting a player in return instead of the bag of used jockstraps we deserved. And then he goes and does this.

Mark my words, the deal for Matt Holliday this afternoon will come back to haunt this team for years to come. First of all, with due respect to the Brewers and Cubs, the Cardinals seemed to be on their way to winning, or at least competing for, another Central Division crown this year with or without this move. Adding Holliday probably makes this a definite, however, it does not put us up there as World Series contenders. Not by a long shot. We're likely going to play the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, barring anything unforseen, and we still don't have what it takes to beat their pitching in a short series. So, what have we gained? Sure, a solid bat (and that's all he is - solid. Not great, but solid) behind Albert and Ludwick is nice, but for a two-month rental? The chances of us re-signing this Scott Boras client is slim to none. Maybe we offer and he agrees to arbitration at around 15 million next year, but that's it. Furthermore, I don't think that a player of Holliday's ilk is worth that kind of money, especially for the long-term deal he'll be seeking.

So, what have we lost, you might ask?

Well, for starters, we lose a 3B/OF/1B prospect by the name of Brett Wallace, who has been compared to Ryan Braun both offensively and defensively and is by all accounts Major League-ready. He may make a few blunders in the field but if his numbers could be compared to Braun's, I think Caleb knows that anyone in their right mind should take that and run with it, especially given the fact that his numbers would come at the price of peanuts for years to come compared with veteran talent putting up similar numbers. Our slugger of the future, down the drain.

We also lose Clay Mortensen, who is also close to, if not already, Major League ready. One of our top starting pitchers in the minors who also had a cup of coffee earlier this year with the big club. He's 7-6 in AAA this year with an ERA just over 4. However, I guarantee Oakland's scouts see something special in him to make him a part of this deal.

I don't know much about this Shane Peterson character, and maybe he's just a throw-in but we'll see how that all pans out for him.

This PLUS we are on the hook for around 5 million of Holliday's 2009 salary. Let's also keep in mind that a month or so ago, the Cardinals were inquiring about Holliday and they said "We want Wallace." GM John Mozeliak said no. Fast forward to today, and we give up not only Wallace, but two other talents, PLUS pick up some salary. So apparently by waiting, we managed to get a worse deal for the same player. Billy Beane has done it to us again, ladies and gentlemen. Fleeced us like a thief in the night. Remember the Dan Haren trade? Billy Beane is smarter than anyone in the Cardinal organization and he has pulled the wool over our eyes yet again. Mozeliak must be the worst negotiator in the history of baseball.

Mozeliak: We want Matt Holliday.
Beane: Great. We want Brett Wallace.
Mozeliak: No deal.
Mozeliak: We still want Matt Holliday.
Beane: We still want Brett Wallace.
Mozeliak: Is that your final offer?
Beane: We also want a couple other guys.
Mozeliak: Uh, huh.
Beane: And you pick up some salary.
Mozeliak: Deal!

It's not that I hate Matt Holliday; I think he's a good player. Again, good, not great. .286/11/54 isn't great. Mark DeRosa has comparable numbers. I just think that this trade will start a sequence of events as follows:

Cards aquire Matt Holliday
Cards lose in first round of the playoffs in 2009
Matt Holliday becomes a free agent this offseason
Cardinals are stuck with Nick Stavinoha or rookie Daryl Jones in LF and Joe Thurston/Brian Barden/David Freese at 3B next year, barring a F/A signing (which, if history is any judge, would not be for an "impact" player at either position)
Cards finish in 3rd place or lower in 2010
Cards struggle in 2011 with another poor team, resulting in Albert Pujols being traded for prospects similar to what we just gave up for Matt Holliday
Cards suck in 2012 with their rookie squad out there every day
Cards finally get back above .500 in 2013 as the young studs mature

So that's just great. 3 years of futility await us. At least maybe I can go back to getting tickets at the gate and won't have to mortgage my house for season tickets for the next couple years. If I'm wrong I'll eat my hat - I just remember how I laughed and laughed at Milwaukee over the Sabathia trade last year and here we are with the shoe on the other foot. They better win it all this year, and I think that's what they are shooting for, but I think this whole thing was a big, big mistake.

Felipe Lopez the answer to Brewers pitching woes.

At least he better be because otherwise trading for him makes no sense. Admittedly he was decent enough last year (especially after he arrived in St. Louis) with a .283/.343/.387 line and this year he is posting .308/.370/.421, which is good. But the Brewers already have a solid 2B in Casey McGehee (.323/.376/.534) who is also a utility infielder like Lopez. In addition the Brewers also have utility infielder Craig Counsell to fill in around the diamond as well (.291/.362/.421). This indicates to me that the Brewers plan on shopping an infielder for pitching soon, or at least they better be.

If the Diamondbacks were willing to trade with you though why not just trade for pitching from them? Between Haren, Davis and Scherzer there are three starting pitchers on the D-Backs that would come in and be in the top two in ERA+, and all three would be tied for or lead the team in HR/9, which I bring up because the Brewers rank last in HR surrendered. So the Brewers better be doing everything they can to get some help. They better be.

Any Sufficiently Advanced Defense is Indistinguishable From Pitching

Congratulations to Dewayne Wise for 1/27th of a perfect game. Oh yeah, and to Mark Buehrle for pitching the thing.

Buehrle's second no-no (and first perfecto) is a textbook example of just how hard it is to throw a no-hitter: Buerhrle struck out 6, which means his defense had to account for the other 21 putouts. And not all of those were weak grounders to second, as Mr. Wise's robbery illustrates.

Kudos to you, White Sox. To all of you, from your ace starting pitcher to your late-inning defensive substitute. And especially to Ramon Castro, for not being A.J. Pierzynski.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Complaint Department

Before I say anything, I want to acknowledge three things of which I am aware:

1) He went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI and a HBP.

2) We won the game.

3) Lineups barely matter.

All that being said why in the hell was Jason Kendall leading off for us last night? His career high numbers of .332/.428/.511 would make him a good choice in the top of the order but that was in 1999 and he only played in (career worst, admittedly) 78 games. He's a 35 year old catcher now and his line of .237/.327/.279 this year isn't doing you any favors anywhere in the lineup let alone at the top. In the lineup last night only two Brewer position players had a worse OBP: Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy, and both of those guys hit for more power than Kendall (.422 and .381 respectively). At least Hart and Hardy were in the 7th and 8th positions in the lineup.

Now that I'm on the subject of J.J. Hardy I have to imagine he can be dangled as trade bait to get some better pitching. I'd hate to see him go but some teams might be interested and we desperately need an arm. Granted he is having a bad year (career worst if he doesn't pick up) but the previous two seasons he posted OPS+ of 100 and 113 and he's only 26. That and prospects should be able to land some kind of help. Plus you have Counsell to slide it at shortstop. Our infield would look drastically different from the opening day lineup (2-3-SS Weeks-Hall-Hardy v McGehee-Gamel-Counsell) but we might be better off for it, not that I am happy Weeks got hurt.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dear NL All Star Managers,

Please stop putting the Padres closer on your roster.

NL Central Stage

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Final Vote

The final position of the All-Star game is decided by online vote among five candidates. Go vote now. Wait, not now. After I tell you who to vote for.

NL: Matt Kemp
First things first: if you vote for Cristian Guzman and his .310/.325/.418 then I'm coming to your house and punching you in the head. Matt Kemp (.307/.372/.474) leads all NL OFs with a 4.6 WAR. That is very good. He is fourth among position players in the NL. He's done it on both sides of the ball with 28 BRAR and 25 FRAR. I feel sort of bad for Pablo Sandoval (.328/.381/.564) as he's having a great year and is second in NL 3B in WAR, but the leader (Casey Blake) isn't even on the roster because David Wright is popular and Ryan Zimmerman is the default Nationals representative. No big deal though: Sandoval is 22 and will get more chances. So will Kemp but he deserves this one.

AL: Ian Kinsler
Kinsler should be starting. I understand how people voted for Pedroia (Kinsler: .252/.329/.498 3.9WAR, Pedroia: .290/.370/.392 2.6WAR) seeing as how he is the reigning MVP but why is Aaron Hill (.296/.335/.495 2.8WAR) ahead of him when the Blue Jays already were sending Roy Halladay? Granted, looking at their lines it becomes clear that Kinsler is playing great defense, but that was known anecdotally as he has been featured on all kinds of highlight reels this season for his glove. Anyway, go vote for Kinsler.

In reality I was going to tell you to choose the guy playing kickass defense because I think the All-Star game sucks when the players in the field aren't making plays like it's important. It turned out to be the persons leading in WAR.


The All-Star Rosters were announced and we here at NL Central Stage have no real complaints about players being left off. The NL Central got appropriate representation and the only snubs that come to mind are starting pitchers and the general rule seems to be not to mess too much with them so that rotations aren't ruined. Mike Cameron has an argument based on his glove vs. Brad Hawpe's bat but I could argue either way so I'm not up in arms about it.

Miguel Tejada squeezed in just by his bat. By my count he is fourth among NL shortstops in WAR (trailing Ramirez, Escobar, and Tulowitzki). He is second in terms of offensive output but his FRAA of -8 is terrible. H-Ram is destroying him on both sides of the ball.

The game is in St. Louis so we get to showcase some Midwest flavor, being mostly fat people and the food that made them that way. Pujols and Fielder get to have fun in the prior-to-the-fake-game-fake competition of the Home Run Derby. I'm picking Adrian Gonzalez for the win for no reason whatsoever because it is a silly competition for which no amount of information or data could lend any credible foresight. If nothing else the Home Run Derby stresses this: first base is an offense first position.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Identity Crisis

No no no BrewCrew. It's the Mets who do this sort of thing.

They scored 5 runs off of Santana the previous day and got blanked by Mike Pelfry. Gallardo takes the loss because he really should have struck out 13 batters.

Gallardo is striking out more than 9/9IP. He is Yovani.