Cardinals Shortstop Rumors: Tejada, Wilson?

tejada1.jpgj-wilson.jpg 

We touched on the Cards need for starting pitching  help yesterday.  Now let’s discuss the hole they have at shortstop.  Let’s examine the options:

  • The incumbent is David Eckstein.  But “The Pest” may have fleeced himself by saying that he wants Julio Lugo/Rafael Furcal money.   Lugo fleeced the Red Sox last winter for $36M over 4 years, and Furcal received $39M over 3 years from the Dodgers the previous year.   If anyone gives that kind of money to Eckstein, a 32 year old with no power, they should be relieved of their duties immediately.   And according to Joe Strauss, it is “widely believed within the organization” that the Cardinals will not offer Eckstein arbitration, let alone get fleeced into a long term deal. 
  • Struass names Miguel Tejada as a possibility, but I just don’t see why any team would want to acquire Tejada to play shortstop.   Plus, the Mitchell Report possibility looms.
  • Then there’s Jack Wilson, whom the Cardinals could probably acquire via trade relatively cheap due to Wilson’s prior fleecing of the Pirates.  The career .269 hitter is due nearly $14M over the next two seasons.  Wilson’s defense would be welcome in St. Louis, though.  Eckstein made 20 errors in 117 games last year.
  • The in house option is Brendan Ryan.  Ryan, a 7th round pick in 2003, is a promising 25 year old who showed promise last year in the big leagues, hitting .289 with a .347 OBP in 180 at bats.  He also had 4 homeruns, which is 2 shy of Eckstein’s total over the last two years.   The downside is Ryan’s defense.  The youngster committed 10 errors in 67 games last year.

Putting on my GM hat here, I’d consider offering Eckstein arbitration. But if he declines, I would give the job to Ryan and try to sign a veteran defensive minded backup like Cesar Izturis to mentor Ryan and start maybe once or twice a week.  The Cards should see what they have in Ryan.  Thoughts?

Advertisements

Mitchell Report Looms Over Winter Meetings

With the winter meetings fast approaching, let’s talk about the one thing that has been looming over the baseball offseason:  The Mitchell Report.   Earlier reports had suggested that the study on steroid abuse within baseball led by former majority leader Senator George Mitchell could be released by the end of this year.   Any potential free agent or trade candidate will undoubtedly lose value if linked to this report.

On that note, today comes a story out of FloridaToday.com about former Reds and Marlins trainer Larry Starr.  Starr was a trainer for 30 years and claims that he warned MLB about rampant steroid abuse two decades ago.  Says Starr:  “I have notes from the Winter Meetings where the owners group and the players’ association sat in meetings with the team physicians and team trainers. I was there. And team physicians stood up and said, ‘Look, we need to do something about this. We’ve got a problem here if we don’t do something about it.’ That was in 1988.”

Starr says he won’t name names but says some teams had up to 40% of their players using performance enhancing drugs, and that by the late 80’s, “20%-30%” of the entire league was using.   Starr said, “When Mark McGwire was discovered taking androstenedione, when that hit ESPN, four players walked into my office within an hour and asked, ‘Where can I get androstenedione?’ ”

Starr grew very concerned with particular players but says he wasn’t able to protect the players as much as he could because the league refused to acknowledge and tackle the problem.  He doesn’t blame the players for using the system.  He seems to blame the league for enabling them.

It’s a great article by David Jones.  I recommend reading it in it’s entirety as a good warm-up for what’s ahead with the Mitchell Report fallout.

Cardinals to Pursue Rotation Help

Finally some good Cardinals gossip, courtesy of Joe Strauss of StLToday.com.

The Cardinals main goal at the upcoming winter meetings will be to obtain a starting pitcher or two.   In part because of ace Chris Carpenter’s health, St. Louis’ starting rotation was atrocious in 2007, going 48-72  with a miserable 5.04 era.   Their 2008 rotation, as currently situated, is shaky with Adam Wainwright, Mark Mulder, Braden Looper, Joel Pineiro and Anthony Reyes as to top 5 (Carpenter will probably miss the first half).  So news that new GM John Mozeliak will be pursuing a new starter shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

So who are they after?  Despite interest in Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse (no offers have been made), Mozeliak seems to want to avoid the awful starting pitching free agent market and hints that the Cards will pursue trades instead.   Struass mentions names like Dontrelle Willis and Johan Santana.  But more likely are cheaper alternatives (dollars wise).  Dan Haren (reunited in St. Louis?), Chris Capuano and Cliff Lee jump to mind.  The Cardinals may be willing to put young arms Anthony Reyes, Tyler Johnson and Brad Thompson on the table.

Mets Targeting Eckstein to Fill Void at Second Base

35542377314.jpgReports state that Omar Minaya has targeted David Eckstein to fill the NY Mets void at 2B. The NY Mets brass has been wooing the Cardinal SS in Connecticut, a similar tactic used to get Tom Glavine to sign in NY originally. Eckstein is said to be seeking a 4 year $36 million deal. Minaya needs to be leery, here. While Eckstein would be a good fit for the NY Mets ballclub, and slide in nicely behind Reyes in the # 2 hole, he is 33 years old. Back problems in 2007 caused Eckstein to play in only 117 games. The light hitting Eckstein is known more for his hustle and grit, something the Mets really need after falling apart late last season.

4 years, though?  $36 million?? This might be a historic fleece to match the Mets historic collapse.