Game 123 Open Thread: August 20, 2006

today's pinch-hit blogger is Tim Dierkes, who runs two blogs -- Roto Authority and MLB Trade Rumors -- and contributes to Hardball Times, Rotoworld, and other sites. he also publishes the annual Roto Authority Guide. many thanks to Tim, who is the last of our guest hosts; i fly home today and return to active duty tomorrow.

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When LBoros decided to give me the keys to his blog, I figured I'd write about the offseason and roster-building. It's probably my favorite part of the game (I'm a Cubs fan; we're more about hope than actually winning). Since I'm not a Cardinals supporter, I can take an objective look at the club's construction for 2007. If I had Walt Jocketty's job, here's what I would do to ensure the club's success in next season.

  • Pick up Jim Edmonds's option. To me, this is a no-brainer. The choice is to pay Edmonds $3MM to go away or give him $10MM to stay. You really just have to decide if he's worth $7MM for 2007. Well, of course he is. Even entering his age 37 season, with his defense slipping, 130 games of Edmonds is easily worth $7MM. And what's the alternative here? Gary Matthews Jr., Dave Roberts, maybe Kenny Lofton? Those guys might save you a few mil but it's not worth it. The average NL CF has a .752 OPS this year; Edmonds hasn't been that bad since 1994. (For the 2006 season, he's at .837 as of today.) No-brainer.
  • Sign David Dellucci to play left field. It's been an incredible 150-odd at-bats for Chris Duncan, but adding Dellucci for $3MM would be very reassuring. You could throw Dellucci out in center field when Edmonds inevitably goes day-to-day. Too many outfielders is a good problem; relying on Duncan seems unwise. And there needs to be less So Taguchi.
  • Sign Jason Schmidt. I know, easy for me to say. Schmidt will probably command $13-14MM annually for four or five years. The 2007 Cardinals are a "win now" team, and Chris Carpenter can't do it alone. It's not often a team has two aces, but the Cards have that chance given Carpenter's favorable contract. Walt Jocketty was close to signing A.J. Burnett last winter, so I think he likes the idea of two stud starters rather than Carpenter and some decent guys.
  • Anthony Reyes is your #3 starter. I think he can provide 180 innings of 3.70 ball. Maybe not mind-blowing, but that's about what Josh Beckett does. Guarantee the kid a rotation spot, but skip him when possible to keep his innings down. I was surprised to see that Reyes will be 25 in October -- no more fooling around in Triple A. But he needs to be babied somewhat.
  • Round out the rotation with cheap guys and/or projects. This is a Duncan/La Russa talent, even if it didn't happen this year. Buy low on Bruce Chen, Jason Johnson, Wade Miller, Mark Redman, John Thomson, Jeff Weaver, or Woody Williams. Mix and match and find a gem. Dave Duncan can see if anything can be done with Jorge Sosa while he's at it.
  • Keep Adam Wainwright in the bullpen; don't sign any relievers. We know that good bullpens are not built by spending money, and the Cards already owe Jason Isringhausen and Braden Looper $13MM next year. Groom Wainwright as Izzy's successor. This is how good closers are made, and it's a lot better than signing Bob Wickman. I'm not so sure Wainwright's success would hold up in the rotation. He never really owned Triple A as a starter, and we see what happened with Ryan Madson this year.
  • Don't worry about second base. Hector Luna would've been fine, but that ship has sailed. Regardless, it's just second base. Sure, Mark Loretta would be a nice fit. But if the Cards have an extra $4 mil lying around it should go towards starting pitching. Surf the waiver wire and find something that works without spending money at second base.
By my estimate, these moves put the payroll in the mid-90s and leave no glaring weaknesses. Mistakes to avoid: relying on Duncan to keep it up over a full season; counting on Wainwright to convert back to starting successfully; paying good money for Ron Belliard or the equivalent; messing with or trading Anthony Reyes; and/or adding Gil Meche for 3/$24MM.
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