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weekend update

saturday morning thisnthat:

  • perhaps this got mentioned somewhere on the site --- or maybe it didn't; maybe it's not worth the pixels --- but the cards signed another minor-league free agent last week, former big-league catcher mark johnson. this guy's the very definition of a journeyman --- 32 years old, now with his 7th team --- but it's interesting how much he has in common with the other backup c the cardinals signed, jason larue: left-handed hitter, low batting average but good secondary offensive skills, solid defense. johnson hasn't played in the majors since 2004 and hasn't had more than 100 at-bats in a big-league season since 2002, so it's not as if this guy is poised to make a difference. nonetheless, you can still detect a faint trace of fresh thinking in this signing. bryan smith of Baseball Prospectus, one of the better-regarded minor-league observers around, called johnson "one of the winter's top minor league free agents" and "the best player available beyond [Brian] Barton and Lubanski." so as far as smith is concerned, the cardinals picked up 2 of the top 3 freely available minor-league position players this year. johnson also was one of the catchers listed on baseball america's best-of-the-milb-free-agents team.
  • stray line from mozeliak, quoted in a recent post at matt leach's blog, explaining the lack of a trade matchup for anthony reyes: "I think when you try to weigh out the value, people are trying to look at how he pitched last year, and his record, and thinking they can just take advantage of that situation. And I think internally we look at him a little better than that." like the thinking here too: the cards know he's better than a 2-14 pitcher and aren't gonna simply dump the kid out in the alley. does this mean reyes will be on the st louis roster? he's out of options and probably won't make it through waivers; maybe, against all odds, he'll be back. or maybe the bids on reyes will become more attractive as the market thins out. however it shakes out, so far mo has resisted the pressure to make a stupid move just for the sake of making a move.
  • about a month ago, citing a post at South Side Sox, i noted the similarity between the white sox's position and the cardinals'. SSS is back at it; read this screed and tell me if it doesn't sound familiar. he decries the sox's unwillingness to pay over slot in the amateur draft; their reluctance to offer arbitration to departing free agents; and their refusal to lay out big bucks for big-name free agents. he also complains of inactivity in the international talent market, a complaint that until a few years ago would have applied to the cardinals. . . . taken in isolation these critiques all seem to stand up, but they don't fare so well when placed into the context of the standings. you could levy the same criticisms against three of the last five champions (marlins, white sox, cards). and all but one of last year's four lcs participants (dbacks, rockies, indians) are slotniks in the draft and non-factors in the free-agent market. in the end, it's still about talent evaluation, not about money. spending exorbitantly in the draft and/or free-agent markets can yield an advantage, but it's exaggerated; it's not a prerequisite for being competitive.
  • pirates fans apparently are freaking out that the pirates didn't take brian barton in the rule V draft. in fact, they're pretty unimpressed overall with new gm neal huntington --- and (like many cardinal fans wrt mozeliak) torqued that he hasn't fixed the team in his first six weeks on the job. Bucs Dugout counsels patience.