Hoffman to the Brewers. That is, I think, a little more than people were expecting Hoffman to get, but it's really academic for the Cardinals; he seemed to have never been in the plans, even when La Russa's comments made the team out to be in double-plus closer search mode, and anyway that's a lot of free payroll to give up for a guy who's got the same two pitches I do.
The test on a guy like Hoffman is this: if he weren't already the closer, would his last three or four years have put him in contention for his team's closer job? Hoffman has some really nice ERAs, and he won't walk anybody, but at this point, probably not.
Uehara to the Orioles. Where, I wonder, does this set the market for Kenshin Kawakami, noted VEB heartthrob? Uehara's two-year, $10 million deal reflects uncertainty not just about the free agent economy but about Uehara in particular—his stint as a reliever, his bouts with injury and erraticness—that are not present in his fellow export.
But I think it also makes it much more likely that Kawakami doesn't get the three years he's supposed to want.. He seems like a good place to try and invest the repurposed Brian Fuentes money, if nothing else; while Ben Sheets is the better pitcher, Kawakami and his slow-motion curveball will not cost a draft pick or develop weird Ben Sheets-specific injuries like shoulder rejection and scarlet tendons.
What's on second: This quote from Tony La Russa, noted by Derrick Goold yesterday at Bird Land, is deserving of the no-comment pull quote. Hey, Tony, are either of the middle infield spots in flux?
"Any middle infielder who is not Khalil Greene is in a competition," La Russa said. "Same deal as last year."
Offseason blog exercise draws admiring link: At Fungoes Pip has distilled the seasons of several important Cardinals into exactly six words. For the Post-Dispatch's coverage of the free agent season, with its low-hanging buzzwords and Miles-induced malaise—the Cards Talk subhead, right now, is seriously "Sound off about DeWitt, payroll, more", and I'm sure by that they mean that people should discuss both sides of the issue in a measured, jocular tone—I humbly offer: "DeWitt, DeWallet, Get it? Same prefixes!"
As mentioned on this very front page, Kevin Goldstein, variously of Baseballs America and Prospectus, came out with his Cardinals Top 11. Noticeably absent: Pete Kozma, honorable mention; Allen Craig and David Freese. Noticeably present: Adam Reifer. I get that he inspires what Goldstein refers to as "crazy" notices from scouts, and that he throws really hard, but the guy is a) a relief pitcher b) coming off an injury and c) pitching in the New York-Penn League.
Placing him ahead of Jason Motte, who throws just as really hard and shut down the PCL last year, is a lot of weight to place on a "devastating" slider, which I'm pretty sure every dominant minor league reliever is assigned by writers and scouts up until he reaches the majors and everyone can see it.
One other interesting thing: Goldstein becomes the first prospect hound of all time to go on about Jess Todd for more than fifteen words without using some combination of "bullpen" or "relief."