Update [2008-1-14 14:24:32 by lboros]: both rolen and glaus have passed their physicals. [/update]
i'd like briefly to note the passing of marty hendin, a member of the cards' promotional team for 30-plus years. his parents were my father's patients, and marty showed his appreciation through various acts of generosity to our baseball-loving family --- every year we'd get signed player photos and surplus swag from giveaway promotions. one night when i was 10 or 11 years old, he invited my dad, my brothers, and i up to the press box during a game. we got to peek over buck and shannon's shoulders while they spun the play-by-play; we shook hands with stan musial, still hale and looking as if he could hit .325; we crowded into the organ booth with ernie hays, who engaged in lively banter with us between innings while simultaneously tickling the keys for the crowd (and not missing a note); and we received copies of that day's briefs for the media, about half a dozen legal-sized pages of stat-filled notes. in that pre-computerized era, when fans almost never had access to any stat beyond basic avg / hr / rbi, these sheets of paper were packed with revelations and delights --- items on the order of "lou brock is batting .323 in his home games this year" and "lynn mcglothen hasn't yielded a home run to a right-handed hitter all season" and "al hrabosky has retired the first batter he faced in 29 of 30 appearances." those stapled sheets are still in a drawer in my old bedroom, i'm pretty sure.
derrick goold has nice remembrances of marty at his post today at Bird Land. condolences to the hendin family.
i don't have a whole lot to add to my snap evaluation of the rolen-glaus trade, nor to the more in-depth analysis that houston cardinal presented yesterday. i did get a little input as to why the jays would trade for an older player with a longer contract. here's how it was explained to me. glaus's player option left toronto in a no-win position. if he came back healthy in 2008 and played well, the jays would lose him --- glaus would decline the option and get a better deal on the free agent market. but if his injuries persisted and he played poorly, then the jays would be stuck with him --- he'd exercise the option rather than hazard the free-agent market. so their best-case scenario was one good year of troy glaus. in rolen, they have a much better best-case scenario --- 3 good years if he comes back reasonably healthy --- and if he stinks they're not that much worse off --- they're stuck with him for one season longer than they would've been stuck with glaus. this is why the cards insisted that glaus exercise his option as a part of the deal --- they didn't want to be in the same position the jays were in.
in short, the jays gave up a little youth and payroll flexibility in exchange for greater roster control; the cards acquired a little youth and payroll flexibility (and above all clubhouse peace) without sacrificing roster control. i don't see the downside for the cardinals. that doesn't mean the trade is sure to work out --- the players' health will determine that --- but the decision-making passes muster w/ me.
i sampled the reaction from within the jays blogosphere to see how this is playing north of the border. we begin with john brittain, who writes regularly for the Hardball Times and wasn't happy on hearing the news:
Bottom line, it'll likely improve the defense but defense wasn't the problem in 2007. If J.P. Ricciardi wants to deal with the Cards, couldn't he at least try to land Pujols?
A best case scenario has a healthy Rolen making up for Eckstein's lack of defensive range and adding his higher OBP and speed to a lineup that struggled last season. A worst case scenario has me thinking about a John McDonald and Marco Scutaro platoon and wondering how Curtis Thigpen would transition to third base. . . . .
This move would seem to fall in line with the Eckstein addition, in that Rolen is a gritty player. He's more in the line of guys that get dirty and play hard visibly. I asked this question after the Jays new shortstop is signed and I'll ask it again. Is J.P. actually listening to those guys who phone into Wilner's radio show saying that the Jays need more heart?
Unfortunately when we try to look at the defensive measurements other than fielding percentage for last season, there's a problem. The two different companies who sit in the stands and mark where every hit goes don't agree with each other about how well he fielded last year. One says Glaus was very good and the other says he was terrible. But we can go back a year and see that Glaus is still up there with the best in the league. Anyway, this is a minor upgrade --- but it doesn't count as extra enticing just because the Jays already have one of the best defenses in the league.