Today was the first full day of the annual MLB Winter Meetings, an event made for Twitter. Owners, executives, agents, players, and media members have descended upon the enormous Gaylord Convention Center at Opryland (complete with indoor river) to discuss baseball, make announcements, conduct trades, sign free agents, and gossip about all of those things. While several free agent signings were announced today--including a three-year, $39 million deal between Mike Napoli and the Red Sox, a four-year, $40 million contract between Angel Pagan and the Giants, and a two-year, $8 million agreement between the Rangers and Joakim Soria--it was a quiet day for the St. Louis Cardinals.
BILL DEWITT JR. INTERVIEW
Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. conducted an interview with Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com in which he expressed relief that the 2012 Winter Meetings will be less stressful for him than last year's, when the Cardinals and free agent slugger Albert Pujols were at the center of the media spotlight. DeWitt confirmed that the Cardinals are not in on what he characterized as "the top free agents" and reiterated that the club's priorities are lefthanded relief pitching and middle-infield depth.
LEFTHANDED RELIEF PITCHING
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hunkered down and engaged Cardinals fans in a lengthy online chat at stltoday.com. The whole chat is well worth a read and can be found here. The first question fielded by Goold focused on one of the Cardinals' stated targets, lefthanded relief, and posed an either/or scenario between Mike Gonzalez and Sean Burnett. Goold replied thusly:
[T]he difference between the two is going to be the commitment necessary to land them and the competition for the pitcher's services. Mike Gonzalez makes a lot of sense for the Cardinals in terms of years. Burnett appears likely to get a three-year deal (a la Affeldt) or a two-year/option deal. Gonzalez has moved around here recently and would certainly like security, but it's more likely that he'll go for a term that doesn't lock a team like Burnett would. Both have the interest of the Cardinals. Burnett's market could speed up here this week. One person I talked to said the lefty would like to get some resolution or direction this week.
(Seriously, just read the whole Goold chat. It has tidbits on Stephen Drew, the up-and-coming Cardinals pitchers, Skip Schumaker, Kolten Wong, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, and more.)
This chat answer comes on the heels of Goold's report on Sunday that the Cardinals have reached out to representatives of Burnett. St. Louis is one of what Goold characterizes as "at least eight teams" to reach out to the southpaw. The Angels are another, and have "serious" interest, per Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
In a Monday evening press conference, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he expects the lefty relief market to be fast-moving, per Fox Sports Midwest's BJ Rains:
Mozeliak says the lefty relief market is moving and he expects most free agents to sign before the end of the Winter Meetings.— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) December 4, 2012
FREE AGENT SCOTT HAIRSTON (UTILITY)
Another rumor involving the Cardinals hit the internet this afternoon. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Redbirds are one of five clubs expressing interest in free agent utility player Scott Hairston. The other clubs reportedly in on Hairston are the Giants, Indians, Tigers, and Yankees.
Scott Hairston (not be confused with Jerry Hairston) is coming off a 2012 campaign with the Mets in which he hit .263/.299/.504 and a .342 wOBA over 398 PAs. Hairston's career line is .247/.302/.449 (.324 wOBA). He bats righthanded and plays all three outfield positions. As Dan writes over at SBN St. Louis, finding Hairston enough PAs in the crowded Cardinals outfield to lure him to St. Louis may be a problem. Hairston is akin to a Bizarro Skip Schumaker in that he hits a low average, decent power, and can satisfactorily play all three outfield positions.
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC ROSTERS
Another bit of 2013 news was announced by MLB today. Tentative commitments to next spring's World Baseball Classic have been announced. The Cardinals on the list of potential participants include outfielder Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico), catcher Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico), and pitcher Jaime Garcia (Mexico). Before going all Chris Duncan and jumping to conclusions about the injured southpaw's participation, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch offers this important qualifier on Garcia's participation:
LHP Jaime Garcia (Mexico) is also tentatively on a World Baseball Classic roster. His participation, though, will be dependent on health.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) December 3, 2012
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak commented on this development at a press conference this evening and the official Viva El Birdos Twitter feed commented on Mozeliak's comment on this development:
So passive; so aggressive. MT @bjrains Mozeliak on Garcia pitching in WBC: "I'm encouraged that physically he feels like he can compete."— viva el birdos (@vivaelbirdos) December 4, 2012
OTHER RUMORS OF NOTE
I'm not sure what the protocol is for resurrecting memes from Hot Stoves past, but FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweeted this earlier this evening:
Roy Oswalt undecided about whether he will pitch in 2013, according to one of his representatives.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2012
Do what you will with this knowledge.
The Cardinals' all-time saves leader, Jason Isringhausen, has decided he wants to pitch in 2013. The righty, who averaged 90.7 mph on his fastball en route to posting a 4.14 ERA, 4.98 FIP, and 4.62 xFIP in 2012, has three teams interested, according to Jon Heyman.