Monday, July 28, 2014

Could Cole Hamels be an option for the Cardinals?

Yesterday I posted a list of possible starting pitching trade targets for the Cardinals.  Well, now you can add one more name to the list of possibilities.

According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Phillies have made Cole Hamels available, however, the asking price is said to be very high.

Hamels can block a trade to 20 teams, however, the Cardinals are not one of those 20.  Per Morosi, the Cardinals and Dodgers are the two most likely teams to pursue Hamels.

Hamels could make a lot of sense for the Cardinals, maybe even more so than David Price.  For one thing, he is signed through the 2018 season, with an option for 2019.  Granted, he is owed $22.5 million per season, which is not cheap, but Price would cost at least that much and is only signed through 2015.

Another reason that Hamels makes sense for the Redbirds is that he has spent his entire career in the NL, so there would not be any transition period for him.  He has a career 3.33 ERA and, oh yeah, he's left handed, making him all the more appealing.

One drawback is that Hamels is already 30 years old and the Cardinals would be committed to him through his age 35 season.  However, that may not be an issue for the Cards, as they recently signed Adam Wainwright through his age 37 season.

Another drawback is the cost to acquire him.  It doesn't appear that the Phillies are going to be giving out any kind of discount for Hamels, in case you were thinking his high contract value would warrant such a thing.  Jayson Stark is reporting that the Phillies are asking for every team's top 3 or 4 young players while they are only willing to eat $10 million of the $90 million remaining on his contract.

For the Cardinals, any offer would likely have to include 3 or 4 of the following players: Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, Stephen Piscotty, Alex Reyes, James Ramsey, Rob Kaminsky and/or Tim Cooney.

It will be interesting to see if the Cards make a play for Hamels before the deadline.  Hamels is unlikely to clear waivers, so if the Phillies are serious about moving him, they have 4 days to do so.  The question is whether any team will be willing to pony up the prospects to get him.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Who are the starting pitching trade options for the Cardinals?

It appears that the Cardinals are looking to acquire a pitcher before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.  However, while most of the talk has surrounded David Price (apparently not yet on the market) and Jake Peavy (already traded), who are some of the other options that are reportedly on the market?

Cliff Lee

Lee just recently returned from the DL and was roughed up in his first start.  Given his contract and health concerns, he is unlikely to be traded before the non-waiver deadline, but he will easily pass through waivers and could end up being traded in August.

Should the Cardinals strike out in their attempts to land a starter before the July 31st deadline, Lee could certainly become an option for them in August.

Bartolo Colon

Per Andy Martino, the Mets are willing to eat approximately $2 million of the roughly $14 million remaining on Colon's contract (he's owed $11 million in 2015).  At age 41, Colon just keeps plugging away, with a 4.01 ERA and a 100/19 K/BB ratio. 

He is a better innings eater than Peavy would have been (and a better eater in general), but would likely cost the Cardinals one of their outfield prospects.

Jorge de la Rosa

The Rockies are reportedly listening on de la Rosa, among others (and no, Troy Tulowitzki is not one of them), per Thomas Harding of   However, after asking the Orioles for their top prospect, Kevin Gausman in return, its pretty obvious that the price is pretty high.

De la Rosa is 11-6 with a 4.19 ERA, but has actually pitched better at Coors field (3.23 ERA) than on the road (5.37 ERA), making one wonder what his results would be if he pitched his home games at a "normal" ballpark.

Jon Lester

The Red Sox appears to be at least listening on Lester and Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that the Red Sox and Dodgers were considering a Matt Kemp for Lester deal. 

However, Ken Rosenthal says the the Red Sox want a "huge" return for Lester and Alex Speier reports that Lester is unlikely to sign an extension with any team that trades for him, making Lest a pretty unappealing target for the Cardinals.

A.J. Burnett

Burnett's preference is to return to the Pirates, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark, but their interest in him is mild, leaving the door open for other teams to step in. His contract includes a $15 million team option ($7.5 million player option) for 2015 and, although he can block trades to 20 teams, the Cardinals are not one of those teams.

There are other pitchers available, but the pitchers listed above probably the most appealing of the bunch.  Colon of the Mets may be the best fit, as they are looking for outfielders (among other things) and the Cardinals certainly have plenty of outfield depth.  Burnett is enticing as well, but its unclear what the Phillies would be looking for in return.

In any case, I fully expect the Cardinals to acquire a starting pitcher before the deadline, but, if they don't, they may take a hard look at Cliff Lee, once he clears waivers in August.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What will happen with the Cardinals' Oscar Taveras?

By next Friday, Oscar Taveras will likely be somewhere else.  The only question is whether that will be another team or AAA Memphis.

The Cardinals are at a crossroads with Taveras.  After being called up on July 1st to try to spark the offense, Taveras started 9 of the first 10 games, but after hitting .219 in those starts (7 for 32), he has started just 3 of the last 9 games.

If he doesn't get hot soon, he could be headed back to the minors or maybe elsewhere as part of a trade.

Here is Taveras' catch 22 situation it a nutshell:  Cards manager Mike Matheny is not going to bench Allen Craig for a guy hitting .205 and Taveras is not going to start hitting unless he gets regular playing time.

All signs point to some change being made in the near future.  It makes no sense for the Cardinals to keep Taveras up in the majors, just to have him rot on the bench.  On the other hand, he is still a top prospect and Cards are in need of pitching, so using him as trade bait for a guy like David Price could be an option.

What is apparent is that he's unlikely to get regular playing time at the major league level.  At least not this season and not while Matheny is still managing the Cards.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What to make of the A.J. Pierzynski signing

The Cardinals made a move to try to shore up their catching situation tonight by signing A.J. Pierzynski.  Per Ken Rosenthal, Pierzynski will join the Cardinals tomorrow in Chicago. 

Should we be worried?

Pierzynski has a reputation around the league as a clubhouse cancer.  A reputation that apparently goes back to at least 2004

The Red Sox were undoubtedly aware of his reputation before they signed him to a one-year $8.25 million deal. 

According to Ricky Doyle of NESN, Pierzynski has received the following "honors" from his peers in his career:

  • the player they would most like to see beaned (2006);
  • the meanest player (2011); and
  • the most hated player (2012).
After the signing, Doyle tried to downplay Pierzynski's reputation, saying his "reputation as baseball villain likely overblown, shouldn't be an issue in Boston."  Even when he was designated for assignment, Doyle downplayed his reputation as a reason, saying "his on-field work simply didn't fit the Red Sox's mold."

Others were not so kind.  Rob Bradford of WEEI didn't hold any punches saying that "the A.J. Pierzynski problem was worse than anybody could have imagined."  Bradford further states that, "according to multiple sources within the Red Sox clubhouse, Pierzynski had become such a negative influence on the team that players approached both the Sox coaches and front office to address the problem."

So, the Cardinals are bringing in a catcher with a bad reputation, at least some of which is probably warranted.  The questions is whether he is a cancer only when his team is losing, as was the case with the Red Sox, or if he is a cancer all the time.  The Cardinals will find out soon enough. 

Reading between the lines: Cardinals' GM John Mozeliak's thoughts on the trade market

In case you missed it, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak was a recent guest on Jim Bowden's "The GM's Office" video blog on  Steve Adams of has a nice synopsis of the highlights from the interview, but its worth checking out the video in its entirety.

Whenever I see quotes or hear soundbites from a GM around this time of year, I always like to try to think "what is he really saying", as you can often read between the lines and get to the underlying meaning of what they are saying.

With that in mind, I tried this exercise using some of the quotes from his interview and here's what I got out of it (your results may vary):

Quote #1:  It's "clearly a seller's market".

What he's Really Saying - "Don't expect us to make any moves anytime soon, until the asking prices come down."

From what we have seen from some of the early trades, the seller's are getting a pretty good return on the players.  Knowing how much Mo values his prospects, he is not going to make a move unless the asking price comes down.

Quote #2:  “We’re certainly not in this for the short term. I think one of the good things about the St. Louis Cardinals is the ability to have sustained success, and we want to continue that” (when asked about David Price).

What he's really saying - "We're not going to mortgage the future for a short-term fix."

While acquiring David Price would be nice and could certainly help this team this year and next, the Cardinals will not make a move unless they feel the cost is reasonable and helps the team in the long run.  In other words, the only way they would acquire Price is if the asking price is not too high and he agrees to a long-term extension before the trade is completed.

Quote #3: "…looking at the next two months, if we could find a way to sort of bridge that gap between now and the time we may get [Michael] Wacha back, I think we want to try to do that” (when asked about acquiring a starting pitcher).

What he's really saying - "Despite what I said before, we could really use some more starting pitching."

Mozeliak goes on to discuss Michael Wacha's unusual injury and the uncertainty surrounding it, making it all the more obvious that he's looking to add another starting pitcher.  However, the "bridge that gap" part makes it sound like he's looking more for a stop-gap type pitcher (i.e. Jake Peavy) than an ace (aka Price).

Quote #4:  “One thing we’ve always said is we’d like to see what Tony Cruz is capable of doing on a day in and day out basis. But having said that, we also want to give ourselves the best chance to win” (when asked about whether the team is comfortable with Cruz and George Kottaras manning the catcher's spot).

What he's really saying - "Cruz is a nice backup, but we need someone better to be our starter."

It doesn't help Cruz' cause that he's hitting only .167 (5 for 30) since replacing Yadier Molina in the starting lineup.  That is probably why the Cards' interest in Kurt Suzuki has increased recently.  Per Jon Heyman, the Cardinals are Orioles are both showing the most interest in trading for the Twins' Suzuki.  Mike Berardino of the St.Paul Pioneer Press indicated that the Twins and Sukuki are far apart on extension talks, making a trade more likely.

Overall, its pretty obvious from all the recent rumors that the Cardinals are looking for starting pitching and it appears they may be looking for an upgrade at catcher as well.  All-in-all, it should make for an interesting week leading up to the deadline.