As this season has spiraled completely out of control, I've spent a little bit of time (not much) thinking about what Cardinals decisions I've been wrong about over the past few years, as well as the reasons why I made those mistakes. I thought it might be a good exercise for me, and maybe some of you, to do. Most of these opinions were expressed here in some form or other, and I went around and around with some of you over them. (I'm an oldie who's too busy to keep up with all the memes anymore, but I used to post a lot.) My list:
1. Chris Duncan's call-up. When Pujols strained his oblique in 2006, I advocated for calling up Brian Daubach instead of Duncan. Daubach was a better stop-gap in a pennant race, I thought. His minor league numbers were better than Duncan's, he had a reasonable MLB pedigree, and I thought he'd be a better bet to hold down the fort for a few weeks until Pujols returned. LB argued that Duncan might have some upside that was worth exploring. He was right in this case.
2. Kyle Lohse. At the time of the deal I thought it was easily defensible, if not exactly inspired. The economics of baseball hadn't yet changed, so $10mn AAV for a 2-3 WAR pitcher seemed reasonable enough. Lohse didn't have much of an injury history, and had displayed the potential to be something better than league-average. Obviously this move was disastrous.
3. Mark DeRosa. I never thought too much of Jess Todd, so that didn't bother me. I liked Perez, but I thought we had enough good arms to sacrifice him. Which was partially true, if DeRosa had actually contributed, but the Cards' bullpen hasn't been strong enough since that trade and DeRosa didn't contribute. Injuries were part of his ineffectiveness, but still a bad trade.
4. Khalil Greene. I thought this was all-upside. Nope. Gregerson has turned out to be a useful player, while Greene... wasn't. Perez + Gregerson = 12 cost-controlled years of valuable relief for essentially nothing.
5. Scott Rolen. I was pleased with the trade for Glaus, and for awhile it certainly seemed like the Cards were getting the best of it. Nope. Other than the first 3 or 4 months of 2008 we've gotten nothing from Glaus, while Rolen has continued to be a reliable player. Perhaps he couldn't co-exist with TLR, but in that case it's worth asking who is more valuable: a GG, AS position player, or an acerbic field manager who picks fights with his best players?
6. The front office. I know that Mo wasn't DeWitt's top choice, but Antonetti didn't want to come here. I thought Mo was a reasonable choice: someone who could work with LaDunc and Luhnow, bridging the gap between the two. It hasn't turned out that way. Mo is too trusting of field management, and his personnel decisions reflect that. Which leads me to...
7. The belief that LaDunc's usefulness with players is a *good* thing. This may seem strange at first, but hear me out. I believe that TLR gets more out of his position players than other managers, in general. I also believe that Duncan is very good at getting the best out of mediocre pitchers. However, I think that those beliefs have given Mo (and others) a false sense of security, thinking that assembling a roster with lots of mediocre talent is good enough, b/c LaDunc will get the most out of it. Paradoxically, if Mo had *less* trust in LaDunc, he might expend more effort or dollars on building a better, deeper roster. When the Cards have suffered in recent years it's been because of a lack of depth. If Mo didn't believe that LaDunc could work miracles with sub-par talent, he might have done more to shore up squad depth so that the team isn't brutally exposed whenever Skip Schumaker stopped slapping singles to left, or when Rasmus or Freese or Penny goes on the DL. This could come from promoting from within (cough... T. Greene... cough) or without. But it's not healthy for a GM to think "Well, if someone gets hurt I can just grab some DFA and LaDunc will fix them".
Those are some things I think I got wrong. What are yours?