Good morning, all.
I have very little to say about last night's game, preferring instead to practice the advice my dear old mater once gave me, about when there's nothing nice to be said. Of course, if you would like to hear me bitch about the poor play on the field, it is entirely possible to do so.
However, today is the 22nd of July, and that means the trade deadline is now less than ten days away. (Okay, technically, it's the non-waiver deadline, and trades can still be made until the end of August, but we all know the deals that count are made before the 31st of July.) There's a lot of trade speculation going around, most of it focused on just two big names, both of which are, in fact, pronounced much the same. Still, even aside from the obvious Halladay/ Holliday rumours, there are plenty of players thought to be changing zip codes before the end of the month.
So, in the interest of coming up with a bit more balanced and comprehensive idea of just what is actually on the market, let's take a look around baseball and see what's out there, shall we?First off, let me caution you: I am going to be doing a fair amount of speculating here. However, I will attempt to stick to names which have been reported as being available, rather than simply tossing out players I would like to have. So, without further ado, let's rock...?
Roy Halladay, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays - the biggest of the big fish, Halladay is the number one name on everyone's mind, and with good reason. A true game changer in any division race he might be part of.
Pros - A true ace pitcher, Halladay instantly improves the staff of any team lucky enough to land him. A lot. Remarkably durable, Halladay also piles up the innings. Has pitched against the big boys of the AL East his whole career, so may actually be even a bit stronger than his numbers suggest.
Cons - As the holders of the biggest fish in the trading sea, the Blue Jays will be asking for an arm, a leg, a head, a heart, the sun, the moon, and quite possibly a celestial body part to be named later. Halladay still comes with a rather large contractual commitment, so any team attempting to acquire him will need more budget space than most teams have. Has possibly "gone Canadian."
Bottom Line - I wrote before about the Cardinals' possible pursuit of Roy Halladay; at the time, I was in favour of it, but as time has passed, I've become much less sanguine. In the end, the talent cost for Halladay is going to be too large, too crippling. I doubt the Cards will part with the pieces, but the rumours refuse to die. Dan Descalso, my own pet prospect, is now being bandied about as part of a potential package, the thought of which kills me just a bit inside. On the one hand, I can certainly see how a player like Descalso is quite attractive. On the other, if he's being tossed around as possible trade fodder because the Cardinals think they already have their second baseman for the next few years, I swear I will start burning team assets to the ground. I'm not joking.
Matt Holliday, OF, Oakland Athletics - the favourite of many Cardinal fans, Holliday fits the criteria of what the Cards need to upgrade almost perfectly.
Pros - Even without the Coors Field Effect, Holliday is a very good hitter. Over the course of 392 plate appearances on the season, Holliday has posted an .821 OPS, which, for reference, is almost 150 points higher than that of Chris Duncan, and nearly 200 points higher than Rick Ankiel's OPS. He also plays plus defense in left field, something we aren't particularly well acquainted with around these parts. Best of all, he's right-handed.
Cons - Remember when I said he's a good hitter, even outside of Coors Field? I wasn't lying, but I was sort of skimming over the fact he is not an MVP candidate outside of it. Interestingly enough, he's still hitting much better at home than away, despite the fact Oakland's ballpark is notoriously tough on hitters. Billy Beane will attempt to extract a very high price for Holliday's services, knowing he's got a pair of draft picks on the way if he can't move Holliday for the right package.
Bottom Line - I'll be honest with you; I really don't get the fascination some people seem to have with Matt Holliday. He's a very good hitter, yes, but as I think has been pretty convincingly proven by now, he isn't the perennial MVP candidate guy when not playing half his games in Coors Field. As an employee of the Scott Boras Corporation, you can be sure Holliday will get a massive contract after the season, meaning he would likely be unsignable if brought in here. Billy Beane understands perfectly well the value of the draft picks he'll get if Holliday walks, and so won't accept anything less than top dollar for his slugger, I don't believe. With the cost to bring him in, plus the exorbitant contract demands, I just don't see how Holliday wears the Birds on the Bat any time soon. And by any time soon I mean ever.
Adam Dunn, OF (sort of), Washington Nationals - the former Cincinnati slugger is still one of the most feared bats in the game, both for the massive homers he hits and the ferocious winds he's capable of creating with his empty swings.
Pros - There may be no better hitter in all of baseball to hit in front of Albert Pujols than Dunn. The big strikeout totals have always concealed a player with extraordinary patience at the plate, as he has never walked less than 100 times in a full season. Just consider that for a second. Albert has walked more than 100 times only once in his career; Dunn has done it seven times.
Cons - Is left-handed. Perhaps the only player in baseball who could make one yearn, desperately, for the masterful glove work of Chris Duncan. Hates baseball, America, and most other things.
Bottom line - Dunn would be a bold, creative move for the Cardinals, and probably wouldn't break the bank nearly so much as a player like Holliday. He would add patience and power to a lineup sorely lacking in both. On the other hand, Dunn gives back a rather sizable portion of his value in the field, and his low contact rate could very well be a sore subject for both fans and coaches. Personally, I think a Dunn acquisition would be a great idea, as the Nationals are in truly dire straits, and need absolutely everything. Bring him in, stick him in the two hole, and just watch the runs roll in.
Cliff Lee, LHP, Cleveland Indians - Sort of the Plan B for several teams in the Halladay Hunt, Lee is nonetheless one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Pros - He's Cliff Fucking Lee. Durable. Dependable. And oh so very good.
Cons - The Indians have really no reason to deal Lee, who is signed at a reasonable rate for next season, when the Tribe hope to find themselves back in contention. The only reason Lee is even somewhat on the block is because of the potential return. With that in mind, the package offered for Lee would have to be overwhelming.
Bottom Line - Personally, I don't think Cliff Lee is getting dealt. He's wicked good, under contract, and the Indians feel they're very close to being a contending team again. The rumours keep swirling, that various teams really like him, but I think he ends the season still an Indian. As much as I would love to see Lee wearing a Cardinal uni, the price would be far too high, methinks. Pass.
Scott Downs, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays - One of the better left-handed relievers in the game, Downs is sure to draw some serious interest. Of course, the track record of former Blue Jay left relievers is a bit worrisome, but...
Pros - Can function in either a situational or setup role. Downs is posting an ERA+ better than 200 for the third straight season. His K/BB is better this year than at any other point in his career. Is signed to fairly reasonable contract for next season, with a salary of $4 million.
Cons - Is signed to a reasonable contract for next year, meaning the asking price in talent will be higher. Represents only a marginal upgrade due to position.
Bottom Line - A late bloomer, Downs has become one of the best relievers in the game after being moved to the bullpen by the Blue Jays. If the Jays are serious about starting over, Downs would make a great trade chip. Not all that likely an acquisition for the Cardinals, but I could certainly see them trying to upgrade the 'pen if they fail to pick up a player at a position of greater need.
Scott Rolen, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays - As part of their desire to begin a rebuilding process, Toronto will likely consider trading any valuable commodity not nailed down, and that certainly includes their former All-Star third baseman.
Pros - He's Scott Rolen.
Cons - He's Scott Rolen
Bottom Line - I'm really only including Scotty Ro here because Peter Gammons happened to mention on the radio the other day he was hearing the Cardinals might be interested in acquiring Scott Rolen. Unless Tony La Russa is part of the package going to Toronto, I don' t really see this happening, but please god, let this happen.
Clay Buchholz, RHP, Boston Red Sox - We all know the story of Clay Buchholz; kid phenom comes to the majors, tosses a no-hitter, then promptly fell flat on his face in his attempt to follow it up.
Pros - Has ace potential, probably better stuff than anyone else on this list not named Halladay. (And even that's debatable.) Young, cost-controlled, and good. What more could you ask for? Seems to have turned things around after getting knocked around big time in 2008.
Cons - Won't come cheap, as the Red Sox are perfectly well aware of just how talented Buchholz is.
Bottom Line - Of all the players on the list, this is the one I most wish the Cardinals would target. The Red Sox are known to be looking for a young bat to play first base and DH, sort of a guy to replace Big Papi. Both Buchholz and Michael Bowden have been rumoured to be on the trade block, but I prefer Buchholz big time. It just so happens the Cardinals have a young bat with no real position who isn't all that far off. I think there could be a match here, and this sort of move would have enormous repercussions for the organisation for a long, long time. Of course, the Cards also could have saved themselves the headache by just drafting Buchholz in 2005, rather than taking Tyler Greene and hoping he was still there in the supplemental round...
A few other players of interest:
Josh Willingham - Could serve as either a left fielder or a utility player with a nice bat.
Brandon Wood - The Angels just can't seem to figure out what the hell they want to do with Wood, and I think he's suffered from the constant uncertainty and shuttling back and forth. Still a shortstop who slugs near .600. I would certainly have interest.
The Whole Pirates Roster - The Pirates are apparently willing to part with just about anyone and everyone, with Freddy Sanchez and Andy LaRoche both being names that would appeal to the Cardinals. Zach Duke and Paul Maholm are also both very intriguing talents, but I'm not sure Pittsburgh wants to deal in division. (Except if the Cubs call, asking for a freebie, of course.)
I'm sure there are others, plenty of them, in fact, but my hands grow weary.
Looking at this list, it seems apparent to me that the Cardinals are probably going to struggle in attempting to upgrade this roster very much. Where they need help, there's very little, and the pitching help is all likely to be very pricey indeed.
Personally, I think Clay Buchholz would make the perfect trade target. He would represent an immediate impact, by sliding into Todd Wellemeyer's spot in the rotation, and could also be a long-term rotation solution, as his upside is higher than any pitcher in the Cardinals' farm system right now. With what Boston is looking for, Brett Wallace might very well fit in such a deal, and as much as I like Wallace, I think that's just the sort of trade I would be willing to move him in.
The Baron's Playlist for the 22nd of July, 2009
As promised to someone in last Wednesday's thread, I present to you my list of the fifteen worst song covers ever. (I thought it was a list of ten, until I actually opened the file. Yes, I type up my crazy made up lists.) William Shatner covers don't count, as they aren't bad, they're just too brilliant for most people to understand.
- "Downtown Train" - Rod Stewart
- "Fairytale of New York" - Ronan Keating
- "I Love Rock and Roll"** - Britney Spears
- "Folsom Prison Blues" - Keb' Mo
- "My Generation" - Hillary Duff
- "911 Is a Joke" - Duran Duran (No, that isn't a typo)
- "American Pie" - Madonna
- "Anarchy in the UK/ USA" - Motley Crue
- "And It Stoned Me" - Bob Dylan
- "Open Arms" - Mariah Carey
- "Sweet Child of Mine" - Sheryl Crow
- "When a Man Loves a Woman" - Michael Bolton
- "The Dock of the Bay" - Michael Bolton
- "Love Me Tender" - David Hasselhoff
- "You Shook Me All Night Long" - Celine Dion
** - The rare double cover, in which a cover version manages to appear on both a best and worst list. The Arrows wrote and recorded "I Love Rock and Roll", Joan Jett made it awesome, and Britney Spears tortured and then murdered it.
I just realised, the blog software only allows for lists to go from low to high, so reverse the order to get a proper countdown effect.