- This Lopez piece in the P-D is a solid best-emotional-state-of-his-life item. I was hoping against hope that he would throw Boras under the bus at the end, where he moves from waiting for a multi-year deal, hoping to not move around anymore, to firing his agent and signing a below-market deal with the Cardinals, but he uses the "I didn't know anything" defense. It is strange to learn that we were much more concerned with Flip's market value, and the various rumors about same, than he was, but given the way it worked out I guess I'm fine with that. (Even if it means he isn't reading Viva El Birdos.)
- The Strauss story about Chris Carpenter (to continue today's edition of Dan Reads the Newspaper) makes me wonder how many starts Carp would have to make for 2010 to be a success. Last year my number was 20, with a hint of one; this year I can already feel myself getting greedy, but I still feel like 20 starts, provided they come at the right time—one or two in october would be nice—is a fair benchmark for a guy who made four in two years (and then zero, one can't forget, in his first year as a Cardinal.)
- At Future Redbirds azru laments the Cardinals' Latin-American prospect woes. It's something to think about while you wait until June, when once-and-present king bonus baby Roberto De La Cruz, who will be, it should be said, playing in his age-18 season, hopes to improve upon his roundly terrible GCL debut. De La Cruz is a summary of all the problems and concerns that go with signing Latin-American players; he got a record signing bonus from the team, he proceeded to manage a .545 OPS and an .875 fielding percentage in a minor league that is not really a league and barely plays games, and he's still so young and raw that he can't be written off. It combines all the risks of investing in wild tech stocks with all the fun and instant gratification of a savings account.
Speaking of De La Cruz, and having nothing else to talk about, today is as good a time as any to make myself look stupid by choosing some prospects on whims and gut instincts. So let's do it!
Winning the prestigious Mark McCormick Award, for the sleeper prospect who has not done much but once had very impressive scouting remarks in a paragraph I read on MLB.com several years ago, is the very same Roberto De La Cruz! He has four of the five overrated prospect tools: a big bonus; age-relative-to-league, even the Gulf Coast League; a hook (the biggest Latin American investment to not be voided in Cardinals history); and a name that's easy to remember. (All he's missing to be a Five Tool Non-Player is an imposing physical presence, but he could grow into his frame, I guess... but growing into one's frame is another tool entirely.)
The Mike Sillman Award for impressive statistics that leave scouts (and people who normalize statistics) completely cold—named for recent retiree Mike Sillman's awesome 2006 season—goes to another physically unimpressive right-hander, Casey Mulligan. Mulligan might just get the award named after himself, someday, provided he never makes an impact for the St. Louis Cardinals; his 2009 was a remarkable achievement, combining a brief flattening of one level (36 K and 5 BB in 20 Midwest League innings) with general excellence at three. And he's young for his leagues!
The Jon Edwards Award is awarded each year to the player who makes me look the most like one of the brain-dead tools hounds depicted in Moneyball. This year there's a repeat winner—it's Tommy Pham, who can do everything except hit the ball when he swings at it. Pham is young for his league, he can run and hit for power, and it doesn't matter, because he struck out 102 times in 336 at-bats. But since he's still just 22, and the career path has mostly worked for Daryl Jones, I'm forced to keep watching him. (As an added prospect-I-overrate bonus, he had a big second half, hitting .250/.353/.450 after a .210/.275/.313 start.)
And finally, the Gary Daley Award for becoming an interesting prospect by being so terrible is, after a late run from De La Cruz, Gary Daley! After sticking around despite his 2008 GCL performance, which is quite possibly the worst 10.1 innings anyone has ever pitched in 17 games (and 11 starts!) of professional baseball, he must have known he'd have to try something new in 2009. So after some underground Spring Training hype he got off to a reasonable start in the Quad Cities, scuffled terribly, and then got promoted to AA Springfield anyway!
I can't even begin to think how he'll top himself this year—as nearly as I can fathom, he'll be perfect in Spring Training, dominate Memphis for a month, get called up, and then vanish from the bullpen in a cloud of acrid smoke when La Russa attempts to bring him in during a nationally televised game.