We all know that there are certain players that Tony LaRussa favors (C. Duncan, K-Mac, Franklin, Izzy) and certain players that he doesn't favor (Kennedy, Rolen, A. Reyes, B. Ryan, etc). I thought it would be interesting to take a look and see if this effects the Cards roster for better or worse.
Exhibit A: Scott Rolen
Yeah, yeah....I know that this riff was the fault of both parties involved. Ultimately the inability to bury the hatchet led to a trade for Troy Glaus, and the eventual drafting of Brett Wallace. Result....Team improved when Non-Tony guy removed.
Exhibit B: Anthony Reyes
We all know the story. Reyes gets traded for Pedermo who is taken in rule 5 draft by the Giants. As of right now, we have nothing to show for A-Rey unless Pedermo is offered back to us. Even if we don't lose Pedermo its hard to see how this makes the team better. Also, because of Reyes' departure we are subjected to 19 starts in 2008 by the likes of Mitchell Boggs, Brad Thompson, Mike Parisi, Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder. Meanwhile, Reyes starts 13 games in AAA with a 3.15 ERA and 6 more with the Indians with a 1.83 ERA. (pick whatever stats you prefer but the point is still clear. In addtion, we are now staring down the barrell of another Pineiro/Thompson 5th starter situation. Pineiro may have never been re-signed if they had a little bit more faith in A-Rey.
Result...Team got worse when Non-Tony player removed.
Exhibit C: Adam Kennedy
This one is a little bit less clear for now. As a supporter of the Skip to 2nd movement, I would personally like to declare this a major victory for Tony. Of course, we know that this remains to be seen until we get to see how Skip handles being at 2B for the next several months. Last year, however, we saw Aaron Miles get a good chunk of playing time and hit for a good average, until the acquisition of Felipe Lopez who was awesome in his short period of time here. Either way, I always felt the team was better with Kennedy on the bench and I think they are better with him out of the clubhouse all together. Result: Team improved when Non-Tony player removed.
Exhibit D: Brendan Ryan
Most of us dreaded the acquisition of Cesar Izturis before the beginning of last season. A lot of us thought Brendan would be able to handle the position on a regular basis, based on his '07 performance. Turns out Cesar was superior to Brendan both offensively and defensively and now we have a potential stud (Khalil) at SS. Result: Team improved at the expense of Non-Tony player.
Exhibit E: Chris Perez
I know its still early, but I'm ready to officially declare YP a Non-Tony guy. Chris barely got a sniff of the closer role last season despite season-long struggles by Izzy and Franklin (both Tony-guys). Of course, its not exactly like Chris was lights out during his brief stint, but he did show flashes of dominance, which is more than can be said for Izzy and Franklin. This season, we have seen him fall below the likes of Kyle McClellan and Brad Thompson on the depth chart for the BS reason that we need to have another long-relief guy. I understand needing a long relief guy, but it should be either K-Mac or Thompson, not both to go along with Franklin. This feels a whole lot like A-Reyes again. Let’s hope I’m wrong. Result: Team got worse when Non-Tony guy removed.
Exhibit F: Brian Barton/Joe Mather/Brian Barden/Brendan Ryan/Joe Thurston
Let’s face it…Barton and Mather basically lost their jobs so we could have 5 MIF’s, well 4 ½ if you aren’t willing to count Skip. I really don’t think that Barton was going to be seriously considered regardless of what he did in spring training. Mather being sent down is more confusing as he has absolutely nothing left to prove in AAA. In the end I think it will likely be Mather coming back up to replace Brendan Ryan (Non-Tony guy), even though it would make more sense to send out Thurston and keep Ryan on the team for defensive purposes. I don’t think there is going to be too much difference in offensive production between Thurston and Ryan, except that Joe can bat lefty.I don’t think Barton will be considered even over Jon Jay. I just get the impression that he is buried on the depth chart, and won’t be returning unless the Cards’ outfield becomes completely shutdown with injuries. This section is more about Thurston being a Tony-Guy and it costing another player, albeit not necessarily a Non-Tony guy, a job.
If you ask me, here is how the Cards roster SHOULD look:
Kyle McClellan OR Brad Thompson
Lineup (not batting order):
Troy Glaus (David Freese)
Brendan Ryan OR Joe Thurston
I guess its just part of dealing with Tony as boss, but it would be really sweet if he, Dunc, and Mo got all the personnel decisions right. All in all, I'd have to give Tony credit for getting the most out of his team, but its frustrating when you consider that the team COULD be better.
Basically we'd have:
Reyes instead of Pineiro
Perez instead of Thompson or K-Mac
Mather instead of Thurston or Ryan
Pineiro could wind up having a better season than A-Reyes. But I don't think there is much debate as to whether Perez would be better than K-Mac or Thompson or whether Mather would be better than Ryan or Thurston.