giant implications II

little-known fact: the cardinals still hold an option on anthony reyes. this was pointed out to me by a member of the cardinal front office, who provided this link to explain the circumstances:

A player may be eligible for a fourth option year if he has been optioned in three seasons but does not yet have five full seasons of professional experience.
reyes has less than 5 years of pro experience --- he was drafted in 2003 but didn't debut until 2004. so even though the cardinals have used up their 3 standard options on him (in 2005, 06, and 07), they can still option him to memphis in 2008. that changes the calculus quite a bit; if the cards can't get fair value for him in trade, they can send him down to memphis without having to expose him to waivers. now mind you, i don't think the kid should be at memphis; 2-14 record and all, i still think he's better than the likes of josh fogg and kris benson, who represent the class of pitchers the cards are now considering (per joe strauss's sunday article). but that argument has been done to death; tony / dave don't want him, and they're the ones who get paid to make the decisions. the 4th option on reyes is still good news because it provides one last chance for the cardinals to salvage some value out of this once very valuable asset. maybe he'll pitch his way back into the organization's plans; maybe he'll or makes himself a more attractive trade target. either outcome would be better than having to trade the kid for nothing or lose him on a waiver claim.

i used to edit a history journal, and i ran an article once about a guy who got rich mining the slag heaps in central city, colorado, during the gold rush --- squeezing the last few ounces of paydirt out of the discarded ore. reyes is now slag-heap material --- not the shiny vein we hoped he might be, but still potentially profitable. the 4th option gives st louis a chance to mine whatever's left in the resource.

the strauss article also made passing mention of a scenario that had the cards trading all of their good prospects for erik bedard. while it's dismaying even to see such a suggestion in print, i don't take it very seriously. that little item fell in the 18th paragraph of a 22-graph story --- not exactly front-burner stuff. contrast that with the coverage in cincinnati, where the trade-for-bedard discussion is serious enough to merit its own article and an accompanying blog post. meanwhile, mariners beat writer geoff baker of the seattle times has been all over the bedard marketplace for days at his blog; an orioles team official told the baltimore sun that the mariners have emerged as one of the front-runners to land bedard by dangling cf prospect adam jones. here is how baker sizes up the situation: "The Orioles are feeling out offers and trying to figure out what they'll settle for." that is probably all the rasmus-for-bedard thing amounts to --- a blip in andy macphail's market research.

let's hope so. bedard is a wonderful pitcher, but the cards can't afford the cost in terms of talent; a trade like the one sketched out in the strauss article would set the organization back several years. i don't see it happening.

the paragraph after the rasmus / bedard mention is what caught my attention. it says: "Unable to decide whether Rolen is coming or going, the Cardinals are unable to deal either of their power-hitting, lefthanded-hitting outfielders, Chris Duncan or Rick Ankiel." poppycock. duncan and ankiel are the two most redundant players on the team --- they are the most tradeable commodities, not the least. the cardinal roster has three left-handed power-hitting outfielders (duncan ankiel and edmonds), and a 4th (rasmus) will probably be ready to join the club by midseason; skip schumaker (another lhb of) is also on hand for short-term duty / bench help. if the cardinals can even remotely conceive of trading rasmus, then duncan and ankiel have to be considered "touchable" as well. i'm still mystified that the cards haven't approached the giants, who are chockablock with young pitchers and desperate for young position players. san francisco currently lists dan ortmeier (a john gall knockoff) as their starting first baseman and have nobody on the horizon; duncan would solve that position for them for four years, while a guy like matt cain or tim lincecum (both of whom seem to be available --- their names appeared frequently last week in winter-meeting rumor roundups) would fill one of the cards' rotation holes. i doubt that duncan alone would be enough to land either of those pitchers, but he'd be a good start; if the cards added ankiel and / or reyes, or perhaps some prospect(s) outside the cards' top 4 (rasmus anderson garcia perez), it just might work. and if it didn't, the cards could still offer duncan in exchange for one or more of the less studly, but still useful, cost-controlled pitchers from san francisco's stable (as proposed here weeks and weeks ago).

we know the cards and giants have discussed rolen, but i've never read a report that duncan's name came up between the two clubs. if it hasn't, it should.

if the cards dealt duncan, who then would play left field in 2008? first of all, i'd pencil in rasmus for a 2d-half callup --- that'd take care of 1/2 of the vacancy. they could start the season with schumaker / barton time-sharing in left, with edmonds in center and ludwick platooning with ankiel in right-field. alternatively, they could sign a one-year free-agent rental. my first choice for the latter, milton bradley, signed with the rangers yesterday (after a near-miss with the padres), but there are plenty of candidates still out there --- cliff floyd, shannon stewart, luis gonzalez, brad wilkerson, shawn green, geoff jenkins . . . . just go down the list and sign the best one who will agree to a 1-year contract. here's how that roster matrix might look:

2008 ROSTER MATRIX
MATT CAIN FANTASY SCENARIO

STARTING 8 BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
$1.2m
spiezio ut
$2.3m
wainwright rhp
$600K
is'hausen rhp
$8m
pujols 1b
$16m
barton of
$400K
cain rhp
$900K
franklin rhp
$2.3m
kennedy 2b
$3.5m
ryan if
$400K
looper rhp
$5.5m
springer rhp
$3.5m
rolen 3b
$12m
larue c
$850K
pineiro rhp
$5m
flores lhp
$1m
izturis ss
$2.9m
ludwick of
$400K
mulder lhp
$6.5m
johnson lhp
$400K
green lf
$7m
miles if
$1.2m
carpenter rhp
$10.5m
wellemeyer rhp
$900K
edmonds cf
$8m
rasmus of
memphis
hawksworth rhp
memphis
thompson rhp
$450k
ankiel rf
$1m
encarnacion rf
$6.5m
parisi rhp
memphis
cavazos rhp
memphis
TOTAL
$51.6
TOTAL
$10.8m
TOTAL
$29m
TOTAL
$16.5m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $107.9m

under this rosy scenario you end up with tremendous stability at the front of the rotation --- wainwright, cain, and carpenter all under club control through 2011 --- plus a lineup that's getting younger (five regulars under age 30, once rasmus arrives), and lots of flexibility for 2009 and beyond. if matt cain proves unattainable and you end up with (let's say) noah lowry plus jonathan sanchez instead, the team still comes out ahead --- it expends a replaceable commodity (left-handed outfield power) for a hard-to-find one (cost-controlled starting pitchers).

you trade from your depth. duncan's a good player, but easily replaceable from within. if he's not on the trading block, he damn well should be.

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