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Sunday Notes

I'm still out of town, but the Cardinals wait for no man. Some faux bullet points:

Joe Thurston is gone; long live Joe Thurston. I don't think I was more wrong about any one player in 2009 than I was about Joe Thurston, who seemed perfectly positioned to earn too much credit and an undue share of fan appreciation as the speedy, slap-happy utility infielder who got off to a hot start. Glaus's absence and Freese and Barden's ugly starts meant he'd lost his chance at being Skip Schumaker's capable second base foil and had to play, instead--almost from the very beginning--as an overexposed, iron-handed third baseman.

But even that might have worked out for him if he hadn't been, and I don't think I'm exaggerating, here, the worst fast baserunner I've ever seen. How bad was he? In limited time, and despite his four regular season triples, he made one out more than Yadier Molina managed on the basepaths. By all accounts an intelligent, hard-working player, he has somehow been worth -12 bases in his brief Major League career, and even that seems like a conservative account of the trouble he had finding and staying on top of the bases.

Thurston's agent says he wanted to remain a Cardinal, but had to "strike when the iron was hot"; but I don't think it was ever a question. Now he's got a new chance to be a fanbase's favorite Scrappy Hustler, and I, for one, promise not to tell any Braves fans about his surprising limitations. I can only hope that a Braves coach takes him aside, just after position players report, and says: If you stand on those bases, they aren't allowed to tag you out.

As for real third basemen, Scott Rolen will be a Red through 2012. This is an interesting deal on both sides; the Reds open up a little payroll in the short term, reducing his 2010 tab from $11 million to $6, but get $6.5 million years for 2011 and 2012. Rolen will be 37 by the end of the deal, which is a little risky, but even with his power sapped and his shoulder in pieces he's been a valuable commodity.

Honestly, I'm not sure what's in it for him, unless he really likes Cincinnati; coming off his best offensive season since 2006, he already had an $11 million payday due him this year and could have been a free agent in what will presumably be a better market for players. His signing bonus--$5 million, deferred over the life of the contract without interest--means that he's basically signed a two year deal worth $11 million, starting in 2011.

Rolen recently made a surprise appearance near the top of Rob Neyer's list of top 100 players of the decade, fittingly right next to fellow MV3 alum Jim Edmonds. There's a Jack Morris-y aspect to the whole thing, because of course it helps that Rolen began his peak almost exactly at the dawn of the decade, but hopefully Rolen's long, intermittently superb coda won't detract from his brilliant run from 2000-2004, a Hall of Fame peak if there ever was one.


Finally, I think it's safe to say that the Cubs lost their trade of organizational headcases with Seattle, and lost it handily; dumping Bradley is one thing, and there is something to be said for trading a guy who the Cubs seem absolutely determined not to play for $6 million of salary relief, which can be used on--well, somebody. But Carlos Silva isn't just a bad pitcher; he's also the guy who whined in public about Ichiro!, the only baseball player whose last name has legally been Microsoft Word search+replaced into an exclamation point and the only bright spot on that last nightmarish Bill Bavasi team, filled to the brim with such luminaries as... Carlos Silva.

Lounging around on a sinking ship, whining at the people who are bailing out water--that is, you'll recall, more or less exactly what got Milton Bradley shipped out of Chicago. And Silva has battled weight problems throughout his career, so he might be even more of a hindrance to their metaphorical seaworthiness.