Monday, January 4, 2010
ALBERT AND THE WHO...
The St. Louis Cardinals are a franchise that can-do-no-wrong in my book. Same goes for the great Albert Pujols. The team has been consistent pursuers of that gawd-awful MLB trophy in nearly every decade and continue to do it despite not having the deepest of pockets.
Their the great midwest champion -- out-shining both Chicagos and staying within grasp of the richer teams in baseball. Only the Minnesota Twins, who racked up one World Series title through foul play against my Cards, can come close to claiming the same territory.
But the Cardinals are cornered by a foxxy weasel these days by the name of Boras. The princely duke of deceit -- who is only representing his clients best interests, after all -- is dangling Matt Holliday under their nose and demanding a king's ransom. There is no real competition for Holliday's rights, as the Yankees and BoSox are loaded and really only tinkering around the edges, and both LA teams seem hemmed in by budget constraints.
Boras remains adamant that Holliday should cost St. Louis $100-million plus on a seven-year or more deal, which in these days and times, is ludicrous. But we all know baseball executives can swallow anything.
So i'd like to offer GM John Mozeliak some friendly advice that should save him a lot of money and some grief down the road.
First, stand firm -- in fact, start retreating. Don't pull the offer off the table today, but give 12 hours notice that St. Louis will be adjusting its offer. Keep it to 4-5 years, $70-80 million max. Be prepared for Boras War tactics.
As you do that, proceed to make a 4-year offer to fellow Boras client Andre Beltre, who would fit perfectly into the vacant hole at 3rd, staying to a 3-4 year package worth about $35-40 million.
Expect typical Boras stalling tactics.
Go directly to the next options, which are feeling out both free agents Chad Tracy and Melvin Mora about their short-term interests. If either is amiable to a 1-year, $2 million deal, sign them. Even as backup material, both would provide great temporary relief and support to Albert Pujols.
If the Holliday bluff works, fine. But if a new page must be turned it should be done convincingly -- again, the NL Central is forever up for grabs.
Imagine that instead of Holliday, you have $16 million to play with. If you get Beltre for $9m, that still leaves $7m available to address your other needs; and there are other needs. A centrefielder/leftfielder like Jack Cust would give Albert terrific protection in the hitting order, and by getting Rocco Baldelli on a $1m deal would provide the necessary defensive backup for the hamfisted DH.
The following names also apply if you need to let Ryan Freel make a go at 3rd or Tracy or Mora are inked.
Brad Penny unfortunately is not going to be the whole answer to that pitching rotation -- so pitch an offer to John Smoltz @ $2m and then go semi-serious for Jon Garland, a two-year $11m deal. With the remaining dollars, feel out Octavio Dotel on a $3.5m contract and have him share closing duties with Franklin. And invest all the rest in scouting.
The future is where the club's real hole is -- after dealing so many prospects the past two years for temporary help, the Cards thinning ranks down on the farm is in serious need for restoration. The pull-back on Warner Mateo likely hurt the club's reputation in central America, and that needs to be reclaimed. And instead of sticking to a 'drafting conservatively' the franchise needs to start swinging for the fences.
Just because the ticket to the playoffs is always within reach doesn't mean the club shouldn't be looking to get better.
Posted by rockfish at 12:06 AM