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sleeping beauty

ack! i overslept and am writing in tremendous haste this morning. terrible day for it, because there is so much going on: the mitchell report is due out today, the astros made a big trade, and the nontender list came out with aaron miles' name on it. addressing these in reverse order:

some of you have taken exception to the sense of celebration over the miles nontender --- which, sadly enough, represents one of the high points of this off-season. i will admit that i pumped my fist when i saw the news --- and not because i have anything against aaron miles. i concede his defenders' point that all this guy did was show up for work and perform the tasks assigned to him to the best of his ability. when, through no fault of his own, he got thrust into a larger role than he could comfortably handle, he still plugged away and did the best he could. dude even pitched a couple of times. all points well taken. it's unreasonable to hold miles responsible for the cards' decline the last couple of years --- but it's not unfair to suggest he was a symptom of a certain disease that afflicted the cards during jocketty's last two years. you could call it a lack of imagination, or maybe a failure to recognize that the 2004-05 team was finished. miles would have been a decent fit on those 100-win rosters, a steady eddy who could fill in all over the diamond, hit some singles, make the routine plays, and exude professionalism. but the cardinals in 2007-08 need guys with a broader range of skills and at least some chance of becoming average (or above-average) big-league players. miles does not possess those qualities, hence is not a good fit for the cards going forward; it's encouraging to see that mozeliak made the correct read and saw the miles' package of talents did not meet the cardinals' needs. mo has now let go 3 well-established major-leaguers --- eckstein miles and taguchi --- who had attractive superficial stats (all 3 batted .290 or above last year) but were one-dimensional at the plate, liabilities in the field, and over 30 years old, hence devoid of any meaningful chance to improve. be patient with mo, folks. the culture is changing.

the decision completes a subtle improvement at the shortstop position, which will be manned next year by two good fielders in their 20s. there's always the chance the cards could still add another shortstop, either eckstein (still out of work --- shut out in san diego, now fishing for a job here in denver) or adam everett, who was nontendered by the astros last night. if you could meld eckstein's bat with everett's glove, you'd have a damn fine player; taken individually, both these guys have the same shortcoming --- they're deficient in half the game (everett at the plate, eckstein in the field). they're also both over 30. everett's incredible glove is probably worth a couple of wins in and of itself, and on a team looking to contend this year he'd make some sense. but he's got no future; he's got zero chance to take the cardinals where they need to go. i'm comfortable with giving the opportunity to izturis / ryan, hoping one or both of them takes advantage of the chance. if neither one does, no harm done; the cards can try again next year to upgrade at the position.

Update [2007-12-13 10:10:48 by lboros]: eckstein is about to sign with toronto. [end update]

derrick goold examines everett and several other nontenders of note at his blog today. he left my favorite off the list --- josh towers, the (now ex-) toronto pitcher who went 5-10, 5.38 last year. [UPDATE: this morning derrick updated his list to include towers, who wasn't officially nontendered until after goold posted his list last night.] i think the cards ought to give his agent a call. what the hell do i see in this guy? as i said the other day, there's the great k/bb ratio --- better than 3:1 in the course of his career. and there's the dunc-friendly profile --- he's a veteran with good control and a variety of pitches who hasn't been able to harness them all into a consistent package. duncan works wonders with pitchers like that --- most recently with ryan franklin, a very similar hurler who blossomed under duncan's supervision. towers also vaguely resembles the star of this year's class of free-agent pitchers, carlos silva, in that his primary skill is the ability to avoid walks. but towers is likely to be available pretty cheap. here are a couple of projections:

ZIPS 167 192 29 98 28 4.96 1.323
CHONE 136 159 32 85 20 4.90 1.404

both of those projections are indexed to the hitter-friendly skydome in a dh league; pitching at busch iii in the nl, i think he'd have a good chance to perform at a league-average level.

re the tejada trade, i agree with erik's take --- houston gave away too much for too little. here are the players they gave up, and their rough equivalents in the cardinal system:

  • luke scott, left-handed slugging outfielder = chris duncan
  • matt albers, 24-year-old struggling starter = anthony reyes
  • troy patton, 21-year-old left-handed pitcher = jaime garcia
  • michael costanzo, double A slugger = mark hamilton
  • dennis sarfate, quadruple A reliever = kelvin jimenez

that's quite a bit to give up for 2 years of an ex-superstar in decline. it makes the houston lineup nominally better in the short term, but it doesn't put them in a position to win anything --- and it hurts their chances of being in a a position to win 2, 3, 4 years from now. so thank you, ed wade --- the lackluster nl central just got a little bit lacklusterer.

that's it, i'm out of time --- gotta get the kids ready for school. looking forward to the mitchell report; plenty to talk about then.