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Javier Vazquez: Rotation filler thins out

$7 million is a lot for a guy who lost two miles per hour off his fastball and a strikeout-and-a-half off his recent per-nine numbers, but I kind of like the Marlins' one-year deal for Javier Vazquez, coming as it does in an offseason that hasn't offered the massive Marlins fanbase a lot of good news. Vazquez was terrible in September, and mediocre all year, but he did pitch the entire season, which is more than can be said of fellow reclamation projects like Brandon Webb—apparently the Cubs are interestedBrad Penny, or Justin Duchscherer

If that's more than can be said of those guys my hope as a Cardinals fan is that it's also more than can be paid to those guys—I'm still finding it difficult to deal with the prospect of the team coming into the 2011 season with Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn heading up the fifth starter depth chart.

My pet option remains Koji Uehara, who could be a fine reliever in the event that Lohse tests out the positive side of the replacement level in 2011, and who wasn't even offered arbitration after making $5 million in a year in which he had a K:BB ratio of 11 in 44 relief innings. (He also played both roles in Japan.) Uehara's a serious fly-ball pitcher, so the Cardinals probably aren't interested, but he's old and he throws a splitter—I'm asking Dave Duncan to compromise a little, here, in the interest of bumping either the 92 bad innings Lohse threw or 50 of the innings Blake Hawksworth and Mike MacDougal soaked up in relief from the back of the roster. 

I hesitate to say this, but I'd even be interested in checking on Brad Penny's demands for 2011 in a similar role. Penny's brief stint as Super-Pineiro is hard to even remember at this point, but it was tantalizing until he vanished from the Post-Dispatch's notes columns and reappeared, a-courting, on Karina Smirnoff fan pages. (Things I've learned from SB Nation St. Louis's referral logs: Karina Smirnoff is way more famous than Brad Penny. Her DanceF/X numbers have been dissected all over the internet.)

Of course, all this is dependent upon how the Cardinals fill their nebulous infield vacancy. That market remains completely still since the Dan Uggla trade; Miguel Tejada is drawing interest from the proverbial "multiple teams", and the Cardinals are almost certainly among them. Which is not exciting. 

That's okay, though, because Phil Rogers has a better idea: Derek Jeter. As an attempt to "bring the Pujols negotiations to a head." In that way, I guess he's right: Calling Pujols up and saying, "If you don't sign with us long-term, we're going to offer Derek Jeter $20 million a year to play shortstop through his age-39 season" would probably be a good way to get things to a head. 

Don't get me wrong, I think Derek Jeter is a great bounceback candidate for 2011. He's looked terrible before, and as recently as last year he was an outstanding hitter. If he were Derek Jeter of the Milwaukee Brewers, coming off the 16th season of a long career spent between the Expos, the Twins, and the expansion Devil Rays, the Cardinals would and should be taking a long look at him, probably at second base. 

But because he is Derek Jeter, and is not only entrenched at shortstop for good but also so lauded to be mentioned in the same conversation with an Albert Pujols extension a year after putting up a .710 OPS and a stereotypically awful year on defense, it's a nonstarter. That might be a fair way to divide "old school" and "new school" sportswriting: Old-school sportswriters might say the Cardinals (I've also heard the Orioles) need to go after Derek Jeter because of his reputation as a winner and a clubhouse leader. I wish the Cardinals could go after Derek Jeter, but I know they shouldn't, because of his reputation as a winner and a clubhouse leader.