Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Cardinals and Manny Ramirez

The baseball chatter around St. Louis today is centering around the comments made by Albert Pujols regarding his pal Manny Ramirez still being unsigned. Pujols seems to think that the Cardinals should bring Ramirez into the fold, hopefully more for his offensive presence than his defensive liabilities. Cards GM John Mozeliak promptly (and publicly) shot down the idea, as expected. I first saw the story on mlbtraderumors.com on Wednesday; it wasn’t long before the story gained enough traction to get ink on both the Cardinals’ and St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s websites.

The idea that Ramirez would be a great bat to put behind Pujols isn’t lost on anyone. But I think the people calling for the GM’s head if the Cards don’t sign the free agent need to take a deep breath and consider a few things:

  • The Cardinal outfield is more crowded now than ever. Last year’s regulars–Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick, and Rick Ankiel–all had great seasons in 2008 (minus Ankiel’s injury woes) and are all back for 2009. The Cards also got extended looks at Joe Mather and Brian Barton in 2008; both will be looking to parlay that Major League experience into a strong Spring Training. Remember Chris Duncan? Yeah, he’ll be back as well. And I’m pretty sure a guy named Colby Rasmus is pounding on the door of opportunity this year. So where do they put Ramirez? This isn’t beer league softball…only three outfielders allowed.
  • Let’s just pretend the Cardinals did sign Ramirez. Let’s say it was a 3 year deal for $40 million for the sake of argument. Relatively speaking, that’s not an unreasonable amount of jack for a guy with Ramirez’ offensive output (when healthy and interested). Will Cardinal fans buy into the phenomenon of “Manny being Manny” for three years? Ramirez has a penchant for not being the greatest clubhouse guy, and apparently likes to give up near the end of his contract. Are we really willing to accept all of that considering it will probably cost the Cardinals at least 3 of the outfielders mentioned above?
  • If the Cardinals did sign Ramirez, and were able to effectively figure out the logjam of outfielders, a question might still remain: Is it enough? Could that $10 million+ have been better spent on pitching, a clear pain point on the 2008 team and a lingering concern going into 2009?

With all these questions, I’m really not convinced that bringing Ramirez in would be worth the costs and risks. It would certainly be an about-face for the front office after all this talk about player development.

But…

OK, fine. Let’s have a little fun here. I’ll go out on a limb and theorize how this deal could get done. I’m not saying I advocate it, and I’m not saying the Cards aren’t trying when these things don’t get done (because they won’t). So here goes:

  1. Sign Manny Ramirez for no more than 3 years, options included.
  2. Shop a package that includes 2-3 outfielders (Ankiel, Schumaker, maybe Barton?) and 1-2 young pitchers not named Chris Perez, Jason Motte, or Kyle McClellan, and acquire 2B Brian Roberts from the Orioles. Perhaps add Adam Kennedy to the deal and pay half his salary.
  3. Make every effort to extend Roberts and Khalil Greene through 2011, which is also when Pujols’ contract is up (Ramirez too, if this theory holds up).
  4. Rely on the development of young players just now emerging to enable the Cards to re-sign Pujols before he hits the open market after the 2011 season. This means that between now and then, the following players will be allowed to walk without being replaced: Joel Piniero, Todd Wellemeyer, Troy Glaus, Chris Duncan, Ryan Franklin, and maybe more.

So the lineup would look like this:

  1. Roberts (2B)
  2. Rasmus (RF-CF)
  3. Pujols (1B)
  4. Ramirez (LF)
  5. Ludwick (CF-RF)
  6. Freese/Wallace/Glaus (3B)
  7. Molina (C)
  8. Greene (SS)
  9. P

…or some variation.

Huh.

Maybe this isn’t such a crazy idea after all…

 

Snow can be so beautiful…

We got about 6-8 inches of snow in the St. Louis area a couple of days ago. That won’t surprise many. And, yes, a lot of our schools were closed, so I guess we need a little bit of President Obama’s “Flinty Chicago Toughness” here, too. But we may get a pass from the White Sox Fan-in-Chief once he lays eyes on the beautiful snow seen next to Busch Stadium on Wednesday.

Ballpark Village 004.JPG

Ballpark Village 003.JPG

I wish I knew who took these so I could give proper attribution, but the truth is I was e-mailed these pics so many times yesterday that finding the original source would be near impossible. I think they are hilarious. I have a few friends that happen to be Cubs fans; generally the sentiment seemed to be “I don’t agree, but I appreciate the humor.” But, of course, in the presence of other non-Cardinals fans, the stance turned into statements like “this is sad” and “Cardinals fans have nothing better to do” and “Boy, that Ballpark Village is really coming along, huh?” Well, I don’t have enough time to address DeWitt Meadow in this article, but I have to say that the other charges are pretty interesting coming out of the mouths of Cubs fans.

Remember seeing all the “It’s Gonna Happen” signs waved by Cubs fans throughout 2008? They even brought them to away games…I saw plenty of them at Busch Stadium this year. Obviously, those came from a place of confidence based on the Cubs’ showing in 2007, the moves they made both before and during 2008, and the relative weakness of the rest of the NL in comparison. On paper, the Chicago Cubs looked like the most complete (if not the best) team in the NL. Of course, before the season started, the same could be said for the Detroit Tigers in the AL. They finished in last place. The Cubs delivered in a big way during the regular season, but once again experienced a massive let-down in the 2008 postseason. Six runs scored and swept by the LA Dodgers. It was the Cubs’ second straight Divisional Series sweep. Wait ’til next year indeed.

How much can you talk the talk when your team can’t walk the walk? If success on the field were influenced by undying fan loyalty, the Cubs would probably be in the World Series more often than they’re not. And I’m not saying everyone should like this little snow stunt…you should root for your favorite team and root against your rivals. But come on…it’s nothing more than a good-natured ribbing. If you’re going to give it (“It’s Gonna Happen”), you’d better be prepared to take it…especially if your team is the Chicago Cubs.

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