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another travel day for me; back out to denver. i'll be away from the internet all day and hence can almost guarantee a number of big moves involving the cardinals will go down today . . . .

a few quick items from over the holiday. first, dave roberts is apparently ready to sign with the giants for 3 yr / $5.5m --- more than the amount i postulated a couple of weeks ago, but still an incredible bargain in this market. the giants remain bereft of position players; it's too bad they have nothing they can give jocketty in return for chris duncan, because they have openings at 1st base and left field. but they aren't going to be offering noah lowry or matt cain for dunc, and the players they probably would make available (brad hennesey?) aren't nearly enough in exchange for duncan . . .

second, david pinto has posted his defensive rankings at two more positions, shortstop and right field. eckstein rates as a solidly average shortstop with the glove; encarnacion, as an above-average right fielder. i found it interesting that pinto listed brian giles as the very worst fielder at s position in 2006; chris dial (using his zone-rating-based system) named him the nl gold-glover in right field . . .

you VEBbers did an impressive job on the quiz about trades/signings of off-seasons past. nearly every question got answered correctly somewhere in the thread. here are all the questions again, with answers:

  1. only two st louis free-agent signees have made the all-star team in their 1st year as a cardinal. only 1 started the game. name both players, and the one who started the game. ANS: eckstein started the game in 2005; tom henke made the team in 1995.
  2. during the years they played in busch stadium ii (1966-2005), only two players the cardinals acquired via trade started the all-star game in their 1st year with st louis. name them. ANS: edmonds in 2000 and richie allen in 1970. rick wise came close --- he started the all-star game in 1973, his second year as a cardinal.
  3. name all the pitchers the cardinals have signed during the free-agent era (1976-2006) who made 30 starts in their first year as a cardinal. ANS: there are only two: jeff suppan in 2004 and andy benes in 1996. kent mercker came close in 1998, starting 29 games; bryn smith made 25 starts in 1990. a cautionary note, insofar as the team will likely ask three free-agent pitchers to hold down rotation spots in 2007. . . .
  4. which free-agent signee holds the record for rbis in his first year as a cardinal? ANS: ron gant, with 82 rbi in 1996. juan encarnacion, with 79 rbi last season, is second.
  5. since world war II, he holds the cardinal record for wins by a newly acquired pitcher (either via trade or free agency) in his first season with the organization. ANS: john tudor, 21 wins in 1985.
  6. one of key members of the 1964 cardinals was acquired as a free agent --- a three-time all-star, he'd been released by his former team at the age of 30. name him. ANS: curt simmons won 115 games for the phillies in his teens and 20s but was considered washed up at the age of 31. released a month into the 1960 season, he latched on with the cardinals and stayed with them for 6+ seasons, winning 69 games.
  7. name the first free agent the cardinals signed during the free-agent era. ANS: perennially short of left-handed pitching help in the 1970s, the cardinals kicked off the 1980s by signing the immortal don hood. in that innocent pre-sabermetric era, nobody looked at k/bb ratio --- hood's was a god-awful 29-44 in 1979 (ie, 1.5 walks per strikeout) and 73-77 in 1978. he went 4-6 with a 3.39 era for the cards in 1980.
  8. name the first african-american player the cardinals ever acquired in a trade. ANS: as musial6 pointed out in the thread, the cards' first-ever african american player, tom alston, was in fact a trade acquisition --- i did not realize that. it was a minor-league transaction, which is how i missed it. the answer i had in mind --- the first player the cards acquired in a big-league transaction --- was pitcher sam jones, acquired before the 1957 season for a buncha nobodies. in the second of his two years with the cardinals (ie, 1958), jones won a strikeout title and nearly won an era title. they traded him in 1959 to san francisco for 1st baseman bill white; jones won the era title that year, led the nl in wins, and finished 2d in the cy young voting.
  9. what player did the cardinals have to trade for twice in a single off-season (within a span of about 6 weeks), and what were the circumstances? ANS: the day after losing the 1968 world series to the detroit tigers, the cardinals traded backup catcher johnny edwards to houston for relief pitcher dave giusti. giusti was supposed to take the place of wayne granger, traded along with bobby tolan earlier that day to cincinnati in exchange for vada pinson. but three days after the trade, the san diego padres made giusti their 2d pick (3d overall) in the expansion draft. the cardinals also lost their #5 starter, larry jaster, in that draft (the expos made him their 24th pick), and middle reliever dick hughes retired. suddenly short of innings, the cardinals got giusti back from san diego on december 3 --- gave up four players to get him, including ed spiezio (scott's dad). so, all in all, they traded five guys for giusti, who threw 100 innings in 1969 and went 3-7; they dealt him away one year later and he became one of the nl's top relief aces. (p.s.: check out the dedication at giusti's baseball-reference.com page.)
  10. during calendar year 1973, bing devine included a certain player in four separate trades --- acquired him, dealt him away, re-acquired him, and dealt him away again. name the player. ANS: the player is mike nagy. the cards acquired him on january 24, then lost him as a PTBNL in a trade they made a week later; apparently they hadn't meant to include him in the PTBNL pool, because in june the cards got him back for jim bibby. all this for an injured pitcher --- he'd thrown just 38 innings in 1971 and 2 in 1972, and wouldn't make his first 1973 appearance until august 8 . . . . . he made 7 starts for the cardinals down the stretch, went 0-2 with a 4.20 era, and got traded on december 9 for a player whose big-league career lasted just 3 at-bats.