Is there anything happening today? There are no trades or even fresh trade rumors, no free agent breakthroughs, no—
Well, okay, there's that.
The big (baseball) news: Greg Maddux is probably done, and it's a low-key end to a career that never demanded the sensationalism it seemed to deserve. In 1994 and 1995, those absurd low-ERA years he'll be best remembered for, he went 35-8 with 20 complete games and six shutouts. He averaged nearly eight innings a start; he struck out 337 and walked 54; he allowed twelve home runs in 411 innings. That's not great command, it's perfect command. It's hitting every corner with your crappy fastball and putting that weird back-up change-up just out of reach for hundreds of different hitters, all with different weak spots. I's a Walter Johnson season pulled out of the Dead Ball era and spread out over two of the livest seasons of all time.
He didn't return triumphantly to the Braves, and he didn't fulfill our sports fan urges and go out on top, so it wouldn't have been right if he'd held a tearful press conference or gone out on a one-last-season tour. So of course this is how Greg Maddux would retire: through his agent, a few weeks after his season was over.
Of course there's one thing that makes this more Maddux-ian than anything else: it overshadows something really impressive that his brother just did. It's okay, Mike: you'll always have the coolest mustache in the family.
Meanwhile, the GMs are in California for the GM Meetings. Not to be confused, he said, having just confused them himself, with the Winter Meetings, which are next month. Derrick Goold likes Aaron Heilman and Kevin Gregg, who both seem like reasonable mid-level trade targets. Heilman, in particular, with both starting and relieving on his resume, would fit this team, although his extreme control issues during 2008 are a real concern whether they're the harbinger of an injury or plain ineffectiveness.
Speaking of sudden-onset control problems, Izzy's going to test the market. For what it's worth I wouldn't mind the Cardinals taking a chance on Isringhausen, if they can bear to not give him the closer's role unless he's throwing fireballs in Spring Training.
But as a Hot Stove spectator I hope they don't sign him immediately, if they plan on signing him—I'm really interested to see what his value is on the open market. Are there teams out there who haven't watched him appear lost for weeks at a time, who didn't see him land awkwardly on that hip and sail fastball after fastball high and outside, who think of him as a great potential bargain? Is there a fanbase, somewhere on SBN, that thinks about Izzy like we do about, say, Edgar Renteria? The idea fascinates me.
Why is Matt Holliday still getting play as a possible Cardinals target? (Link goes to Strauss's article from yesterday.) Did I miss a week in which the Cardinals traded off all their outfield depth for middle infielders? Holliday is a great hitter, road stats be damned, but on a team where Colby Rasmus isn't guaranteed a job out of Spring Training but Adam Kennedy might be there's no urgent need to bring in another outfielder. An "impact bat", as the P-D sidebar terms it, would be fantastic, but they just don't come at the positions the Cardinals have available right now.
Maybe they could try this: a league-average bat is nearly as far above Cesar Izturis's 2008 season as Matt Holliday would be above Skip Schumaker's 2008 season. If the Cardinals find that guy it'll be a less impressive move, but probably more helpful. Now, uh, good luck with that.
Finally, Kelvin Jimenez was plucked off waivers by the Blue Jays. I don't dislike Kelvin Jimenez as a person, and I'm sure that, now that he's on another team, he will blossom into the relief ace that La Russa and Duncan at times appeared to think he was. But I've never been more confused about a relief pitcher—and what he was doing in the major leagues, at any given moment—than Kelvin Jimenez. I just never got it.