UCB: Top 5 Cardinals Stories of 2008

by on December 31, 2008 · 14 comments

As part of yet another great United Cardinal Bloggers project, I give you my top five stories of 2008 as pertains to the St Louis Cardinals.

1.  Lohse signs late, then signs early

Kyle Lohse was on the rader of GM John Mozeliak for most of the winter prior to the 2008 season.  Lohse was reportedly looking for a multi-year deal somewhere in the $10mm per season stratosphere.  When the dust settled in Spring Training and Lohse had yet to find his multi-year offer, he signed with the Cards for a one year $4.5mm deal.  That turned out to be a great thing for both the Cardinals and Lohse.  Kyle was arguably the Cards’ best pitcher in 2008 and he signed a big 4 year, $41mm extension late in the season.  Are the Cardinals kicking themselves now that the bottom has fallen out of the free agency market?  Only time will tell on this deal.

2.  “We got Glaus?  What’d we have to give up with Rolen?  Nothing?  Are you serious?”

Say what you want about Troy Glaus’ inconsistent hitting, his early season slump, etc.  Getting Glaus to play third base for disgruntled former Cardinal-for-life Scott Rolen was a small coup in my book.  Glaus – .270/27/99, .855 OPS.  Rolen – .262/10/55, .780 OPS.  Not convinced?  Glaus made 4 fewer errors in more chances, and had a higher range factor than Rolen.  Want more?  The Cards got $1.8m in cash from Toronto in the deal too.  Need another one?  Glaus’ contract expires after 2009, the Jays are on the hook for another $11mm season of Rolen in 2010.  Nice move, Mo.

3.  MVPujols

Another ho-hum .350+, 30+ HR, 100+ RBI season for Albert Pujols.  El Hombre caught some flak for winning the award on a fourth place team while Ryan Howard was on a World Series winner, but who was truly more valuable to their team?  Pujols is quickly streaking toward being the Greatest Cardinal of All-Time (with all due respect to Mr. Stan Musial), yet somehow folks continue to be underwhelmed by his feats.  Case in point, my buddy (who happens to be a Cub fan, perhaps that’s the *real* issue) who muttered to me the other night: “so, you gotta be worried about Pujols after this year, huh?”  Me:  “uh, why would that be?”  “Well, you know, he didn’t really have a huge year…seems like he’s kind of slowing down?”  “He won the MVP.”  “Well, yeah, but he’s been *awesome* before.”  “What about .350, 35, and 120 isn’t *awesome*?”  I’ll spare you the rest of the dumbfounding conversation, but is Albert setting the bar for himself so high that folks are motivated to yawn at a .300/30/100 from him?  Gross.

4.  Youth beginning to serve at Busch

2008 marked the arrival, at one time or another, of eleven players on the Cardinal roster who had no prior Major League experience.  None.  Not a single at-bat or inning pitched.  Some did better than others, some spent more time up than others.  Some might never put on a big league shirt again (sorry, Rico Washington).  2009 promises to be more of the same, perhaps even some more full-time jobs being held down by youngsters as Chris Perez, Jason Motte and hopefully Colby Rasmus will all contribute.

5.  LaRussa’s (and perhaps Duncan’s, jointly) future in doubt

This one is kind of a 2008 carrying into 2009 story, but one worth mentioning.  Tony LaRussa signed a 2-year contract prior to the 2008 campaign that will carry him through the upcoming season.  Speculation is rampant that LaRussa is nearing the end of his managing career, that he is looking toward retirement in the near future.  There are no tell-tale signs from LaRussa as such, but rumors have long been flying about now that LaRussa might not be enjoying as much input on the roster as he once did with former GM Walt Jocketty.  There are those that believe LaRussa isn’t interested in any sort of rebuilding process (which the Cardinals can’t seem to firmly get into or out of).  Many others believe that LaRussa is too committed to using veteran players or role players to fill out his roster, rather than bring along youngsters – which the team has focused on under the control of Jeff Luhnow and Mozeliak.  What does this all mean?  You tell me.  All I know is that Cardinal fans could be in for a wake-up call once LaRussa is done.  Not necessarily a bad wake up call, not necessarily a good one.  Things will just be…different.  Pitching coach Dave Duncan may or may not follow LaRussa off into the sunset or wherever he heads.  Who would be a leading candidate to replace TLR?  Jose Oquendo?  Pop Warner?  Maybe Dunc himself?  Methinks this is bound to become a yearly watch, perhaps even a series of one-year contracts, until LaRussa decides to hang it up.  At the least, it seems very clear that the current ownership will give Tony a free pass as long as he wants it.

Agree or disagree?  I love to banter with you in the comments section.

Cheers to 2008, here’s looking forward to 2009!

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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Cardinal70 December 31, 2008

Good work!

As long as the TLR situation doesn’t turn into the local equivalent of Brett Farve’s yearly decision making, I’m OK with the one-year contracts. TLR tends to decide fairly early, without dragging it out.

PHE December 31, 2008

True – Tony is nothing if not fair to the team and the organization. I think he realizes to an extent how good he has had it (and continues to have it) here.

Trey December 31, 2008

I hope you are right about the continued development of young players. We’re going to need that, especially in the bullpen.

PHE December 31, 2008

I may be wrong, and Future Redbirds would probably be a better source, but I think the bullpen is one of the strongest areas of the minor league system right now.

Between Motte, Perez, and McClellan they’ve got a good head-start.

Sarah-bug December 31, 2008

I was trying to find something to disagree with, but I couldn’t. Good list! 🙂

Although (re: your twitter comment)… I’m not sure Miles will be that easy to replace. Maybe I’ve just got my rose-colored glasses on where he’s concerned. (Plus, I was a little disheartened by the way they waited until the last minute to even make him an offer. Seems like if they didn’t want him around, they could’ve at least told him as much.)

PHE January 1, 2009

Here’s where I’m at re: Miles.

He was never supposed to be an offensive contributor to the Cards. LaRussa made him that. If a large part of the 2008 success of the Cardinals was dependent upon the success of Miles, there were much larger underlying problems than the bullpen.

Know what I mean?

You’re probably right in that they dawdled a bit to offer him at all…after all, they did the same thing last season, and he had little to no interest. It just so happened this season that the Cubs are willing to try to make a career journeyman into a starter (again). I’m not knocking Miles, he just clearly didn’t have a place (whether naming AK the starter without competition was right or not).

Sarah-bug January 1, 2009

I would have said the same thing last year. We had Kennedy and Izturis set up to play every day, but they brought back Miles and he definitely got his share of playing time.

I am just sure (in my heart of hearts) that Kennedy wants to be better than he is, but Tony isn’t going to change his doctrine just to make AK feel welcome. If he isn’t producing, he’s going to get pulled from the lineup. The question is, who is going to back him up? I love Brendan Ryan as much as anybody, but is he the answer? I guess we’ll find out.

PHE January 1, 2009

Felipe Lopez for 1 year at $3.5 would’ve been my choice. 🙂

Sarah-bug January 1, 2009

Too bad nobody listens to us, right? 🙂

PHE January 1, 2009

Yeah, at least on this point. I’m sure I’d have gotten myself in trouble on some others.

StLCards January 2, 2009

If I’m thinking top stories of 2008 I’m thinking one name, Ludwick. Meant to be the 4th outfielder he became an all-star and received national talk of MVP. I know I never believed he would have so much success last year.

Other notable stories would be the rise of McLellan and the fall of Izzy.

RE: Miles. I’m really sorry that he can’t have a chance to be the everyday 2B. Not that I think he is what the Cards need, just that I would rather see him than a disgruntled Kennedy. I have voiced my opinions before as to what I’d like to see in a 2B. Mainly that would equate to a solid leadoff batter.

PHE January 2, 2009

Yeah, I kind of took Ludwick as a given – but I guess that could’ve been said of a couple that I did write up too.

I think the 2B situation very simply boils down to the Cardinals not being willing to throw away AK’s $4m this season, else they would’ve cut bait a long time ago.

StLCards January 2, 2009

Was just reading an SI article by John Heyward that was discussing free agents and where they might wind up (I was searching for Randy Wolf news) and didn’t see the Cardinals mentioned once.

I do know that Mo voiced his displeasure with the Rockies leaking news about Cardinals interest in Holliday way back when, so maybe things are going on behind closed doors that aren’t getting leaked. Right now I’m still wondering who the 5th starter will be to start the season.

PHE January 2, 2009

Well, as of right now, I think they’re counting on it being Carpenter. I’m not saying I agree, but everything I’ve read indicates that is the plan.

I’d like to see them turn around and turn the Fuentes cash (plus a little, probably) into Wolf and Ohman.

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