While some of these wouldn’t necessarily qualify as a “move” in most minds, here are – in my opinion – the most influential moves/non-moves/transactions made by the Cardinals’ brass during the 2008 calendar year. (In no particular order.)
- Trade Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus.
- Sign Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright to contract extensions.
- Sign Kyle Lohse.
- Promote Kyle McClellan.
- Play Ryan Ludwick every day.
- Promote Chris Perez and Jason Motte.
- Hold onto Colby Rasmus.
- Sign Felipe Lopez.
- Trade Mark Worrell for Khalil Greene.
I still wonder to this day if John Mozeliak fell out of his chair when this deal was going down. Despite my blind allegiance to Rolen (I still have my #27 home white jersey), this was a trade that had to be made. Many expected Rolen to fetch far less and expected the Cards to have to eat part of Rolen’s contract. Instead Mo pulled off Glaus, and Glaus almost won a Gold Glove while banging out another solid season at the plate. Here’s hoping that yesterday’s news about Glaus’ shoulder doesn’t set him back any farther than May.
The Cards hopped on board the “buy out arbitration years” bandwagon with several other teams last off-season, and why not? With players’ arbitration demands skyrocketing each year and arbitration awards being, by rule, independent of the economy, this move looks even smarter now. The Cards have two franchise players locked up at well below their free market value. Now if Waino can just stay healthy and keep throwing to Yadi every fifth day, we’ll be in business.
As has been mentioned here before, the long-term extension is looking suspect, but we won’t know for four years exactly how it turned out. What we do know is that the Cards got $14.2mm worth of value (according to Fangraphs) out of Lohse for a paltry $4.3mm in 2008. Lohse turned in a career year, hopefully attributed to Dave Duncan, and easily repeatable.
I won’t launch into my “he shouldn’t start” bit (even though I’m right), because this is about his 2008 performance. Sure, he tailed off at the end, turning in a “burned out” August and September. Can you imagine what the Cardinal bullpen might’ve been without him running out there every other game? After completely skipping AAA Memphis by impressing in Spring Training, McClellan was the Cardinals’ Rookie of the Year for 2008.
It is still unfathomable for me that a player who was a 2008 All Star, finished 16th in National League MVP voting, and hit .299/37/119 wasn’t an every day player at the start of the season. Ok, maybe that’s not the most ridiculous part of this story. Perhaps more unbelieveable was that Ludwick was still platooning with Chris Duncan into the middle of May! We all know how Tony LaRussa likes to fiddle with his lineups, but the way this guy was torching the ball, how could it have taken so long to write his name in every day?
I was never convinced that the Cards had the bullets or the allure to sign a Brian Fuentes this off-season, so getting these guys some seasoning in 2008 could well be crucial to the bullpen’s success in 2009. Both are likely to compete for, if not co-exist in, the closer’s role in 2009. Tony still says the team’s number one priority the remainder of this off-season is to sign a veteran closer, but finding those available is becoming more and more difficult. I’d advise TLR to start wrapping his noggin around a Motte-Perez eighth and ninth inning combo.
Many Cardinal fans were screaming at the trade deadline that if it took Rasmus to get an “impact bat” or “#1 starter” that Mo should drop the hammer and make the deal. I am glad that never happened. The primary argument for trading Rasmus is that he may never pan out, might as well get a proven commodity for him. The Cards have played that game folks, and it’s why they find themselves in this position today. They have neglected the farm for too long, trading what few chips they had for aging stars. It won them a championship, so by no means am I one to criticize, but times are quickly changing and the Cards have a greater need than ever to be self-sustaining as an organization. I’m looking forward to the Cards buying out Colby’s arbitration years while watching him go to multiple All Star games.
Although they chose to let him walk this off-season, bringing Lopez on board for the end of 2008 certainly helped. He produced for two months like he’s never done before, and helped keep the Cardinals in the race into September. He’s now with Arizona on a one year, $3.5mm contract. I think that may have been worth it on a flyer, see if he could replicate his success in St Louis. On the flip side, there is a reason this guy has been outright released twice.
Obviously this one has yet to produce results, but I’m putting my support firmly in the Spicoli camp. Greene finally escapes cavernous Petco Park, and for Worrell, I guess he finally escapes the tyranny and oppression he faced in the Cardinal organization. There is still a player to be named later that will, well, be named later, to complete this trade. That name is likely contingent upon some performance metric so the Padres can recoup a bit if Greene goes off. I liked the deal then, I still like it, and if the Cards have to give up a bit more to complete the PTBNL, I’ll still like it because that probably means Greene had a great season.
Ok, there you have my list. Agree? Disagree? Have a list of your own? Let’s banter…