luis to the lou

bill madden of the new york daily news grabbed a few moments with la russa last week when the manager was in new york speaking to some life-insurance suits. verbatim:

"When I got home from the Series I called both 'Supe' and Jeff [Weaver] and told them we want them back," La Russa said. "I also told them that this is their time and I understand they have to do what they have to do. I told them we intend to make them what we consider to be very fair offers, commensurate to what we can afford. I would hope the success they've had with us in St. Louis would be a factor in them wanting to stay, but I don't know. In the case of Weaver (who was practically dumped on the Cardinals in mid-season after going 3-10 with a 6.29 ERA for the Angels), I'd ordinarily think we'd have a real good chance of getting him back except for the fact that Boras is his agent."
a few graphs later the article says that "La Russa is now a firm believer in clubs not overpaying to retain their own free agents." you get the distinct impression tony doesn't expect either one to be back in st louis.

i got the exact same thing a couple days ago from an infrequent VEB poster who is pals with a cardinal scout. the scout tells my source that suppan is expected to receive 3- and possibly 4-year offers in the $8m to $9m per year range, with weaver getting nearly as much. the cards won't pay that kind of money, the scout says; they'll "posture" for both pitchers, ie make nominally competitive offers, but are prepared to let them walk. no complaints from me if that's how it comes to pass; at those prices, neither one is worth it.

the same scout says the cardinals have interest in jose cruz jr for the following reasons: he can play all three outfield positions, switch hits, has base-running speed, and could take over in center if edmonds goes down. just a few months ago, several VEBbers expressed a desire for the cardinals to grab cruz for the stretch run after the dodgers dfa'd him in august; he went totally unclaimed and sat out the last two months of the year. he's an interesting player, hits for a low batting average but does everything else pretty well --- good on-base and slugging figures, good baserunner, good defender. his strength is against left-handed pitching, so he'd balance out a st louis outfield that's full of left-handed batters. cruz will be 33 years old next year and is only one season removed from an 18 hr, 50 rbi campaign as a part-timer; sort of at the same career juncture that spiezio was at last spring, ie tossed onto the scrap heap and simply looking for a job. like speezer, he's the son of a former cardinal player. he can probably be had for a few hundred thousand dollars, ie a no-risk proposition; i'd much rather have this guy than taguchi.

that's third-hand information, so take it for what it's worth. i will say this: the guy who passed it to me has provided accurate tips in the past. if he says cruz jr is in the discussion, i believe it. and please observe that he merely says the team has interest --- not that they're on the verge of signing him.

coupla other items from the weekend:

  1. dave duncan says they want wainwright to stay in the bullpen
  2. luis gonzalez is said to be close to a one-year deal with the cards
i'd rather see wainwright in the rotation; that's where the need is. they're already well-stocked in the bullpen, with looper kinney johnson flores hancock thompson and rincon. i mean, that's a whole bullpen right there --- and guys like andy cavazos and dennis dove and god knows who else will be vying for spots in spring training. if you stick wainwright back out there, that means a useful pitcher gets traded for scraps or goes to triple a . . . . well, unless the guy he displaces is looper. that'd be no loss, but with his contract i doubt they can move him unless they're willing to pick up some salary.

the gonzalez tidbit appears to have been supplied by gonzo's agent, which renders it suspect. the cardinals already have two younger, cheaper, better-hitting, left-handed-batting leftfielders on the roster, ie duncan and rodriguez. what sense would it make to pay gonzo $5m or so to put up an .800 ops when the cards can get the exact same thing from duncan/j-rod for a few hundred K? i suppose the cards might be able to give encarnacion away for spare parts, basically as a salary dump, which would create a spot and some payroll space for gonzalez; even at 39 gonzo's a better hitter than en'cion, and he'd come cheaper as well (ie, a one-year commitment vs the two years remaining on en'cion's deal). the nationals and giants are both looking for outfielders and might be willing to take en'cion and his salary off jocketty's hands; that'd free up the money needed to fill out the rotation.

2007 ROSTER MATRIX
LUIS GONZALEZ SCENARIO I

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
$600K
cruz of
$750K
carpenter rhp
$7.8m
wainwright rhp
$350K
pujols 1b
$15m
rodriguez of
$350K
reyes rhp
$350K
looper rhp
$4.5m
graffanino 2b
$1.5m
bennett c
$600K
meche rhp
$5m
kinney rhp
$350K
rolen 3b
$12m
miles if
$400K
wolf lhp
$6m
johnson lhp
$350K
eckstein ss
$4.5m
taguchi of
$1m
woody rhp
$5m
flores rhp
$500K
gonzo lf
$6m
schumaker of
memphis
narveson lhp
memphis
hancock rhp
$350k
edmonds cf
$8m
ryan if
memphis
---
---
thompson rhp
$400k
duncan rf
$350K
---
---
---
---
rincon lhp
$1.5m
---
---
---
---
---
---
is'hausen rhp
$9m
TOTAL
$48.0m
TOTAL
$3.1m
TOTAL
$24.1m
TOTAL
$17.3m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $92.5m

hmm --- lineup skews heavily to the left side and features two over-35 outfielders in decline . . . . awfully reminiscent of the 2005 team. and the 5th outfielder (taguchi, in this scenario) would end up getting 250 at-bats or so off this roster, which probably ain't good. pretty solid rotation, though; the meche and wolf salaries are envisioned as cheap first-year prices in backloaded deals. i threw graffanino in there just for fun; no idea if the cardinals have any interest. . . . . you'll also note that en'cion has vanished without any apparent compensation; theoretically the cards would get something back, perhaps along the lines of the bigbie / miles package they received last year for ray king. i'm too lazy to figure out what specific players the cards might realistically target in such a trade, so they're invisible in this exercise. supply any replacement-level player who strikes your fancy.

'nother thought re luis gonzalez: maybe the cards think they can get something back for duncan, in which case gonzo becomes the more-or-less everyday lf. (if you missed erik's close look at duncan yesterday, i recommend it.) what might duncan bring back in trade?

ken rosenthal reported yesterday that the pirates would part with a young southpaw starter in exchange for a left-handed bat at first base; sounds like a possible fit. their young pitchers include zach duke, paul maholm, and tom gorzelanny; all have the potential to be solid big-league pitchers. rosenthal also alludes to the potential availability of closer mike gonzalez, which would clear wainwright's return to the rotation and so, in effect, add a starting pitcher. as tempting as that trade looks on the surface, i don't really like gonzalez's long-term value; he's basically a journeyman, bounced around in the minors for 7 years (in the pittsburgh system) and turns 29 years old next spring. he walks 6 men per 9 innings . . . . if the cards were going to trade a young power bat, i'd rather see them take their chances on a young starter who still has potential to tap.

2007 ROSTER MATRIX
LUIS GONZALEZ SCENARIO II

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
$600K
cruz of
$750K
carpenter rhp
$7.8m
wainwright rhp
$350K
pujols 1b
$15m
schumaker of
$350K
reyes rhp
$350K
looper rhp
$4.5m
graffanino 2b
$1.5m
bennett c
$600K
maholm lhp
$350K
kinney rhp
$350K
rolen 3b
$12m
miles if
$400K
wolf lhp
$6m
johnson lhp
$350K
eckstein ss
$4.5m
j-rod of
$400K
woody rhp
$5m
flores rhp
$500K
gonzo lf
$6m
ryan if
memphis
narveson lhp
memphis
hancock rhp
$350k
edmonds cf
$8m
---
---
---
---
thompson rhp
$400k
en'cion rf
$5m
---
---
---
---
rincon lhp
$1.5m
---
---
---
---
---
---
is'hausen rhp
$9m
TOTAL
$52.6m
TOTAL
$2.7m
TOTAL
$19.5m
TOTAL
$17.3m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $92.1

maholm has the least promise of the three pirate youngsters, but he's still pretty good; his top 10 comps per pecota include danny jackson (#1), steve trout (3), mike hampton (8), and tommy john (10). his #5 comp is bob hendley, the opposing pitcher in sandy koufax's perfect game (he threw a one-hitter and lost). . . . . pecota projects maholm as a league-average pitcher in 2007, close to 3 wins above replacement level. trading duncan would be risky; i'm sure the pirates would be just as nervous --- maybe more so --- about dealing one of their pitchers. if i'm in jock's shoes and the pirates are amenable, i pull the trigger.

note that both of today's scenarios feature payrolls well below the $100m cap joe strauss mentioned on the radio a week or so ago. if the team is really willing to go that high, they could make a big splash this off-season. bottom line re luis gonzalez: it's well known that he and la russa admire each other, and gonzo has been going around now for weeks (ever since the world series) saying he wants to play in st louis, so it won't be shock if he signs. as a general rule, i'm not a big fan of 39-year-old position players; but under certain circumstances gonzalez might be a tolerable option. if nothing else, his signing might precipitate another move or two and make this off-season more interesting than it otherwise would've been.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Viva El Birdos

You must be a member of Viva El Birdos to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Viva El Birdos. You should read them.

Join Viva El Birdos

You must be a member of Viva El Birdos to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Viva El Birdos. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker