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down the stretch

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i write to you from the distant past (thursday morning) as i have just realized that, if i am traveling all weekend, posting on saturday will be a difficulty.

as such, if new information has arisen in the last two days, i will have no knowledge of it at the time of this writing.

in the event we sign matt holiday on Friday, i for one welcome our high 5-figure/low 6-figure, 5/6/7/8 year contractual encumbrance/superstar left fielder overlord, for whom we have just over/underpaid. john mozeliak should be praised/publicly drawn and quartered.

what is news to me as i write to you, cardinal fans of the future with your flying cars and space clothing and meals in pill form, is that the cubs have just signed marlon byrd to a three (3!) year contract. i $15m isn't a ridiculous sum for his services, though i doubt he makes sense as a CF in 2012 or that he will post more than an average player's value next year.

the money suggests an average value for byrd of 1.5 wins a year. that seems like a decent guess at his value going forward, especially as he ages. at that money, byrd is a pretty decent if uninspiring signing. in the current market, after missing out on cameron (and it's hard not to look at mike cameron going to boston for comparable money for two years but likely to provide FAR more value and not see a missed opportunity for chicago), this was about as well as they were going to do. i still doubt that this makes them a better club than the one with bradley (for all his warts) and harden on it; erik had a good post over at play a hard nine which ranked the cubs (iirc, with byrd on the squad) as an 84-win team.

my big regret is that this takes the cubs out of candidacy for full-on comedy in CF for 2010 by putting rick ankiel or >scoff< scott podsednik full time in the role, although i feel enough for rick ankiel to know that a year in wrigley could really ruin him as a person. putting a struggling ankiel in a key offensive and defensive position in front of one of the toughest baseball audiences in the nation north america (to keep with our canada-love theme from last week) seems like a terrible plan for a fragile persona like ankiel. ankiel still seems likely to be a pirate in april, which is probably best for everybody.

all in all, nothing has happened in the NL central so far this off-season that should strike fear in anybody's heart. a lot of overpaying for middling relievers, the comical bradley-for-silva deal, the overpay for randy wolf, the appalling decision to let mike cameron go in favor of trading jj hardy for gomez, the inability (so far) of the reds to shed their aging starters' salaries, the inscrutable ability of the reds to nevertheless extend scott rolen . . . . on balance, i would say the moves made by the rest of the division have made the division worse, not better. that doesn't mean the season is a cake walk for the cards, with or without holliday. we are always a bad injury or two from sinking the ship, but you have to like our chances, especially if we land holliday.

tell us what you think in the poll.

take heart in the new year, friends. the solstice has passed us by, which means the days are getting longer. not only are we seeing more sun, but we are closer to pitchers and catchers reporting in 2010 than we are to the last game of the 2009 world series. it's still some time away but, while you've been taking exams or buying gifts or nursing a new year's hangover, we've actually made it much of the way to new baseball.

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we interrupt this post for a public service announcement: a hangover is not a mystical physiological phenomenon. a hangover is basically dehydration caused by consuming alcohol. this may be a day late, but if you have a hangover you just need to drink fluids with no caffeine or alcohol or other diuretic agents in them: water, caffeine-free soda like sprite, juice, etc. miracle hangover food - raw eggs, fried things - is largely a waste of time and may be counterproductive. greasy foods may upset a stomach already miserable from too much alcohol. coffee is a diuretic which will make your hangover worse, not better, because the caffeine will make you draw more fluid out of your blood. ibuprofen and fluids (like water or juice) is all you need. next time, try to drink a glass or two of water for every alcoholic drink you consume. we now return to our regularly scheduled post.

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I apologize for the short post. Enjoy the New Year.