So far this offseason, we've all tossed out our very favourite trade targets on a pretty much daily basis, hashing and then rehashing the details of every deal that could possibly bring us that personal hobby horse we so dearly wish to have. And why not? It's our right as fans, damnit! There aren't any games going on (at least not for our boys in red), so we might as well talk about what could be for next season, right?
But what about the other side of the equation? We all know just which player- or players- that we would like to see the Cardinals pick up, but we rarely focus on the guys going the other way. The bullets, so to speak, that make the deal happen. Really, if you want to come up with a deal that just may actually work, it's probably best to start with your own side, rather than looking at who you want. Figure out how much value you yourself have, and go from there.
So, with that in mind, let's treat some human beings like chattel, shall we? It doesn't have to be a comprehensive examination, of course. I thought that, to start at least, we'll take a look just at what the Cards already have at the big league level. Call it a bird in the hand situation. I think that most of us know who the trade chips are. Now let's see just how good a chips they are.
Adam Kennedy- Hey, I figured we would start out right at the top. The top, of course, as in the top of most fans' wish lists to be moved this offseason.
I have to say, at this point, I think that Adam Kennedy has pretty negligible trade value. He is still a very, very good defensive second baseman; most of the defensive metrics had him amongst the very best at the position in 2008. It appears that at least some of his problems in 2007 were caused largely by his knee malady, and he looks to be healthy again. Unfortunately, Kennedy's bat apparently didn't get the memo that his knee was supposed to contain some sort of miraculous fountain of youth chemical that would begin pouring out the second it was operated on, because it has just refused to come back out of hiding. He did hit better in '08 than in '07, thankfully, but that's a lot like saying that getting punched in the crotch is quite a lot better than getting kicked in the crotch. Either way, it just isn't all that much fun.
Bottom line, any team that agrees to take on Kennedy's salary, even for a single season, simply isn't going to give the Cardinals much in return. He's a pure salary dump player, useful really only as part of a package deal, I think.
Skip Schumaker- Yeah, I know he's a fan favourite, as well as a manager favourite. Still, when it comes right down to it, Skippy is replaceable.
Now, that's not to say he doesn't have some real value. He's a very strong defender, and doesn't fit too badly at the top of a lineup. His plate discipline came a long way this season, and he still makes good contact. He even showed a modicum of pop at times. He's still relatively cheap, so that certainly helps. As one of our posters states so very eloquently in his signature, Skip and Kosuke Fukudome are roughly equivalent players, and the Cobbler isn't going to cost you eleven million a year.
I have to say, I'm sort of hoping to see Skip get moved this winter. I think he has pretty good value on the market, while the Cardinals have options internally that I think would be much better in the long run. I like Skip, don't think for a second that I don't, but he's really a pretty damned good trade chip.
Troy Glaus- Glaus is a bit of a left field trade piece, I know, but still a valid one, I think. He's under contract for the 2009 season, having exercised his option when he was dealt to the Cards last offseason. Given the numbers he put up this past season, Glaus would be quite a deal for anyone looking to add some serious pop at the hot corner.
The problem with Glaus, of course, is that he has a complete no trade clause that he would have to waive before any deal could actually get done. He seems quite happy here in St. Louis, and I'm sure would require a pretty substantial inducement to waive the clause. I would think that he would probably be interested in playing on the west coast only, and any team looking to get him would probably need to offer him at least a three year extension. Unfortunately, that limits his trade value fairly significantly. Still, a guy with his numbers and pedigree might still be able to bring a pretty penny on the open market, and the Cards are suddenly awash in third base prospects who are at least relatively near the show.
Ryan Ludwick- Oy. This one is tough to suggest, to be perfectly honest. There's no way you give up a guy who puts up the type of numbers that Ludwick is capable of, right? Well, there are certainly reasons to at least consider it.
First off, Luddy has a pretty extensive injury history. I know, it seems a little callous to consider trading a guy because he's had trouble staying healthy, but that is the situation. He's had two healthy seasons in a row, after many, many years of near-constant time spent on the DL. Can he keep himself in one piece for a third year in a row?
Second, while the numbers Luddy put up this year were certainly impressive, you also have to be cautious about putting too very much weight on them. As much of a question as his health is, you absolutely have to have the exact same concerns about how real this level of production is.
So what you have here is a player right around thirty years old, with one pretty good and one outstanding year under his belt. He's still cost controlled, as his service time is only in the two year range, so that does help his value. Still, you have to question just how much a team is going to be willing to gamble on Luddy being reality, rather than just a one year wonder.
Rick Ankiel- Another tough one. The kid's been with the organisation forever, so there's obviously some serious emotional ties between he and the team, not to mention the fans. I have to think that Mozeliak would be, at the least, hesitant to move Rick.
On the upside, Ankiel is ridiculously talented, in almost every facet of the game. He's got power to spare, showed the ability to hit for at least a fair average, and can play the outfield quite well. He's probably better suited for right field than center, but he's quite adequate either place. The arm, of course, doesn't hurt matters any, as runners have to be on the lookout for him tossing them out anywhere, at any time.
On the downside, Ankiel is almost thirty himself, has a pretty extensive injury history, and still doesn't really have a whole lot in the way of plate discipline. His track record is very limited, yet he's also close to free agency. A team looking to pick up Rick would essentially be getting only one year of cost controlled performance, thus driving his value down. Overall, all the caveats with Ludwick apply to Ankiel too, only moreso. He has some value, certainly, if only because of his talent, but Rick Ankiel just isn't as good a commodity as many seem to believe.
Chris Duncan- This one, honestly, is probably a non-starter from the get go. Duncan just had pretty radical surgery on his neck; the sort of surgery, in fact, that doesn't really have any kind of precedent for an athlete coming back from. He has about two thirds of a good season, to be honest, he can't play the outfield, and that's pretty much all there is to say about that.
Chris may come back in 2009 and turn himself back into the valuable commodity he was after the 2006 season. Then again, he may not. Either way, he's not getting moved this offseason, and has really no value even if he were.
Chris Perez- Now here's an intriguing fellow. We all know of Perez's limitations, and we've seen just what he can do all the same. You want a player that could net you something serious on the trade market, brother, this is it.
What we have here is a young, cost controlled, close to closer ready pitcher with very little injury history and an absolutely electric arm. He does have some pesky issues with his control, of course, but when he's on, he's unhittable already, and he's just a baby. The sky is the limit with Perez; of course, that's also probably the reason you would hope not to move a guy like him.
Bottom line, Perez is probably the Cards' best trade chip at the major league level. (And yes, I consider him a major league pitcher, no matter what La Russa might say about the plans for him next year.) He is the most valuable to the Cardinals, but also the most valuable to most other teams as well. If you're looking to bring in a guy like, say, a Brandon Wood or the like, Perez is likely the sort of player you'll end up having to use to get it done.
Come to think of it, while watching the Rays in the postseason, one can't help but notice that they're using Dan Wheeler, and not the good Wheeler, to be honest, to try and close out games. While the name Zobrist is getting thrown around a lot 'round these parts, I think Perez is worth more than that. The Rays do, of course, just happen to have a guy, plays shortstop, down in the minors. Name of Brignac, I believe...
And really, that's about it. Guys like Thompson and Pineiro, I honestly don't think they have a whole lot of value. Pineiro is waaayy too expensive for what you get, and Thompson just isn't worth much on the market. I could be wrong about Puppy Kicker, at least, but I don't think I am. I still consider Mather a minor leaguer, as his time here was very, very limited. So, to be honest, those are probably the best bullets that the Cards have to deal with this offseason. Most of the other players I could bring up are, in one way or another, much more necessary to the team. As much as I like Bryan Anderson, I'd be awfully leery of dealing Yadier Molina. The middle infielders are all free agents or named Aaron Miles.
So that's the crop. What do you guys think?