Cardinals Notes: La Russa, Pujols, Payroll

In an afternoon meeting yesterday, the Cardinals made an offer to Tony La Russa to manage the team in 2011, according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold.  Leach quotes GM John Mozeliak saying that he hopes to have a resolution within seven to ten days.  La Russa indicated he would not manage another team next year, but would not rule out working for another team in a different capacity.  But in the opinion of Goold, "All indications are pointing toward La Russa's return, from the All-Stars the Cardinals have coming back to the recent comments he's made about the team in 2011."

Perhaps of more interest to us hot stove junkies is Joe Strauss' take on the offseason in a separate piece.  Strauss notes that the team has a small arbitration class (first-timers Kyle McClellan and Brendan Ryan) but almost $80MM committed to nine players.  Among those nine is Albert Pujols, whose $16MM club option is a formality.  Extension talks are expected to occur after the La Russa situation is resolved.  The team's $94MM payroll appears to be on the rise, though retaining Jake Westbrook might compel the team to fill other holes internally and cheaply in Strauss' opinion.  Strauss explains the team's needs:

The Cardinals go forward seeking a backup catcher, a lefthanded reliever, an upgrade at either second base or shortstop, a safety net at third base, heft for the bench and possibly a right fielder.


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34 Comments on "Cardinals Notes: La Russa, Pujols, Payroll"


gmart68b
4 years 10 months ago

Nothing like a modest to-do list, eh?

stackthedeck
4 years 10 months ago

There’s lots of backup C available as a piece on this website said yesterday. The Cards will be looking for a little more offensive catcher than in years past. Too bad they let Bryan Anderson play his own value down before trading him.
I’d like to see them hold onto Ryan to man SS and upgrade at 2B. Who would be available to play second and maybe leadoff? A true leadoff man would be great….
Lefthanded relievers are a dime a dozen. Bench guys are cheap to come by as well. Jon Jay would be an easy pick for RF unless something else comes up.
I’m still dreaming of a closer too.

InTheKZone
4 years 10 months ago

Ummmm. Bryan Anderson hasn’t been traded.

stackthedeck
4 years 10 months ago

Yes, I know. It was poorly worded on my part. I meant that they should have traded him when he had value. My bad.

dizzle4
4 years 10 months ago

I find the mention of a right-fielder interesting – don’t they have so many outfielders that they drove Colby Rasmus insane with a lack of playing time?

stackthedeck
4 years 10 months ago

That was LaRussa’s so called way of keeping Rasmus from taking bad at bats. Ridiculous. Outside of Holliday and Rasmus, only Jon Jay was at all effective at the plate this season. (not including Ludwick of course)

dizzle4
4 years 10 months ago

Do you think if La Russa comes back, they’ll at least have to consider moving Rasmus? Or would that just create too big of a whole in CF?

stl_cards16
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t see them moving Rasmus. Of course there are going to be calls on him and it would be a GM’s job to at least listen, but I don’t think they would do anything unless they thought it would make the team better next year. Unless the Cardinals get “blown away” he will be a Cardinal next year.

Sniderlover
4 years 10 months ago

It would create a major hole. Rasmus has great potential and he’s put up 2 solid seasons. Besides, the Cards are getting older and who knows what happens with Pujols. If he walks, then a re-built is probably necessary.

If it were me, I would let LaRussa walk rather than trading Rasmus.

stackthedeck
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t think they would move Rasmus. LaRussa’s time here is winding down. Hopefully they can co-exists another season. Rasmus will be around for a long time. I’d hate to see him moved because of a riff with LaRussa when he won’t be around that much longer anyway.
Besides that, Rasmus a ood cheap young talent which we need when and if the Cards resign Pujols.

4 years 10 months ago

Mozeliak stated recently that Rasmus will not be traded. Of course, he could be posturing, but I think that drama is behind them now.

studio179
4 years 10 months ago

I have to agree with the others. Rasmus will remain a Red Bird unless they get a ‘can’t pass’ offer from someone.

stl_cards16
4 years 10 months ago

I would like to see what Allen Craig could do with regular at-bats. He has undeniable power and has always been an RBI machine in the minors. He could be a cheap, solid option for right field next year. Of course with TLR he will never get the regular time he needs to see if he can handle the position or not.

Taskmaster75
4 years 10 months ago

Nah, I have been hard on TLR, but he did give Craig a lot of playing time in the later half of the season considering how many OF’s we had, but I do agree I would give him a shot considering all his power.

4 years 10 months ago

This team is too top heavy from Pujols, Carpenter, Holliday, and Wainright. They have very little money to get a shortstop, starting pitching at end of the the rotation and other needs mentioned in this post.

stl_cards16
4 years 10 months ago

Do you have inside information to what their payroll will be next year?

Jessamynn
4 years 10 months ago

The team is definitely top-heavy — in 2012, the Cards will be paying:

$30m – Pujols
$17m – Holliday
$15m – Carpenter
$9m – Wainwright
$12m – Lohse
$7m – Molina
———————–
$90m (for 6 players)

…and this is before factoring in arbitration raises for Rasmus/Garcia.

Let’s say that’s $95m for 8 players — then it’s obvious that the team would need to drastically increase payroll in order to fill out a 25-man roster. Even if the team just filled out the rest of the roster with players making the minimum, it still pushes the team over $100m.

Obviously Cards fans don’t want 17 minimum salary guys filling out the roster because then the team wouldn’t be competitive. Maybe they could get a few 2nd or 3rd tier free agents, but that would still put the team past the $120m mark, and I’m not sure that they can (or are willing) to go that high. Have the Cards ever been over $100m?

StLunatic88
4 years 10 months ago

The Garcia/Rasmus cases arent for sure things, they might happen, but they are no locks for Super 2.

And yes they have been over $100 mil, and they have already talked about realizing the need for payroll expansion, and that is why the last few season they have been going on the cheep, so they can pay Albert along with bringing other pieces in.

stl_cards16
4 years 10 months ago

There you assume Pujols will be making 30m and that the Cards will pick up Carpenters 15m option. You can’t pass your guesses off as facts. Honestly if Albert wants 30m a year he needs to be traded, and I have no problem with that, he deserves the money, but the cardinals can’t take that kind of risk. I look for him to get between 24-26mil a year if he stays, with a raise for next year too. By 2012 the payroll should be around 110mil. The new stadium is almost paid off. When they built the new stadium their plan was to have it paid off in 5 years to avoid paying so much interest. That will allow the payroll to rise. 2012 is the last year for Lohse and the last option year for Carp. There will be money to free up to build the team.

Jessamynn
4 years 10 months ago

Right, I was operating under the assumption that you would want Pujols back.

So now my question would be that if you do let Pujols walk (I’m assuming the Cards won’t trade him mid-season next year b/c they’ll likely be in playoff contention), and you let Carpenter walk, is there enough left over to contend in 2012? I suppose the Cards could attempt to sign Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez (if they dont get extensions next season) to replace Pujols.

stl_cards16
4 years 10 months ago

In my opinion, the Cardinals have to figure out if they can sign Albert to an extension THIS offseason. You can’t let it get to the middle of next year. If you can’t get an extension done, you open up trade talks. I don’t want it to get to next years trade deadline. And by your math that would be 45mil they would have to either replace 2 players or upgrade other positions. I really think Albert will sign for somewhere around 25mil. I think people really underestimate how much 25mil is worth in St. Louis compared to 30mil in LA. or New York. Albert is smart, he realizes this and he wants to be a Cardinal. I do want Pujols here, but first and foremost I want a winner, so it’s up to the front office to decide what is best. All I know that letting him walk for 2 draft picks is not what’s best. Either get a deal done, or trade him.

Jessamynn
4 years 10 months ago

Hm, I see your point. Perhaps exploring a trade this off-season would net the best return, but wouldn’t that also really take away from the team’s ability to push for the division in 2011? I think we’d have to assume that a Pujols trade would be prospect heavy, players who probably can’t help the Cardinals right away.

It’s a tough situation, and while I have all the respect in the world for how the Cardinals run the team, the potential ramifications of both holding onto Pujols and letting him go are pretty scary.

stl_cards16
4 years 10 months ago

It may hurt the teams chances next year if a trade were to happen. But it would be suicide for the future to let him walk away for nothing after 2011. Like I said I want Albert to sign an extension. But the last thing I want to see happen is to keep him and then he walks to the highest bidder after next year. I really think sometime this offseason we will see something close to an 8 year 200 million dollar deal. With the payroll expected to rise over the next few years this would still allow the Cardinals to make the moves the need to make. I really don’t think he is all about the money. But he is an athlete so I don’t trust it completely, until he signs the dotted line.

Ferrariman
4 years 10 months ago

by 2012, Carpenter and Lohse won’t be with the team. or at a (significant) reduced price.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

I agree they are top heavy and there are some similarities between their situation and the Astros of 2 years ago when they had some much money tied up to Lee, Berkman, and Oswalt that they couldn’t fill their needs. They tried patchwork solutions but ultimately had to tear it all down. I’d hate to see that happen in St. Louis, but I can’t see all 4 of them remaining and them being able to sign quality players.

mateodh
4 years 10 months ago

The Cardinals have a way of finding under-the-radar guys. I think they’ll be fine without a major acquisition. The baffling thing is that all of their stars had great seasons, they were healthy most of the year, and they couldn’t surpass the Reds. I’m not shorting the Reds, they had a great season, I just don’t see how the Big 4 can do any better next year, so the table setters and back-end guys are going to have to step it up.

As far as who they could get, a couple names come to mind.

They have Jon Jay and Allen Craig waiting in the wings, but given the way Jay batted the last couple months he’s definitely a gamble, and while I’d like to see Craig’s bat on a regular basis, he’s not a great defender out there.
Ryan Ludwick is a possible non-tender for San Diego, IMO, and it seems to me that he was worth more to the Cardinals than his bat would suggest. Not long after they traded him, the team really went in the tank. I would give a long, hard look at reacquiring him.
Brad Hawpe likely hits the market. You can’t look past his down year at the plate, but from ’06-’09 Hawpe was one of the most consistent bats in baseball, amost a lock for .290/.380/.500 with 20 HR. As you’d expect, he hit better at Coors in that time, but not by much, and we’ve seen Holliday and Walker hit well outside of Coors for us.

4 years 10 months ago

-SS: Ryan needs to get first crack. While he didn’t have the best offensive season, his defense is a tremendous asset. Also, keep in mind that Ryan was coming back from a wrist injury, the nature of which often takes a toll on a players offensive ability for at least one season. Look for a bounce-back offensive season next year, provided no set backs. He won’t win any silver sluggers, but he can be an adequate offensive player.

2B: Skip can’t be allowed to start. He just doesn’t have the offensive ability to justify being such a liability in the field. If the team wants to go cheap, then give Descalso/Greene a shot. If not, at least get somebody who can field. An all-defense no-offense player is better than a no-defense no-offense player.

3B: Hopefully Freese comes back, but they need a safety net if he doesn’t. Honestly, not sure who fits the bill. All I ask is that its not Feliz or Miles. Gah.

RF: I’m not sold on Jay or Craig. If Craig can’t play 3rd (which he couldn’t effectively in the minors) then he doesn’t have a spot on the team outside of being a 5th OF/bench bat. Jay is probably a 4th OF, but he earned a shot at the starting job despite regressing at the end of the season.

LHP/Bench: Card’s will do what they always do with LHP, sign a ton of minor-league FA’s and hope some of the proverbial shit sticks. Hopefully they go young with the bench. Maybe a veteran backstop, but no Pagnozzi for the love of god.

InTheKZone
4 years 10 months ago

Other than saying Jay is better than Craig, I tend to agree.

4 years 10 months ago

Just wanted to note that I originally credited Goold with the payroll-related article, but it’s by Joe Strauss. I made the correction.

stl_cards16
4 years 10 months ago

You need to move the chats back to Tuesday. I miss being able to attend them.

motiger68
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t know why the Cardinals have so much money tied up in Holliday, Carpenter, Wainwright, and Molina when they could be going after quality players at a much lesser price. Give these rookies a chance to play to see what they have! I hope Larussa decides to retire and begin a new era in Cardinals baseball.

showmejoe
4 years 10 months ago

What C, 1B, LF and SP pitchers do you know about in the Card’s minor league system that are better than the players you mentioned? Do they have a 40HR/120RBI 1B that is a lock for the HoF hidden in the minors? How about a 30HR/100RBI OF down there that nobody knows about? Carp and Waino finished 2 and 3 in the Cy Young voting last year and Waino is likely to be in the top 3 again this year. As for Molina, do you think gold glove catchers are a common commodity?

I like watching the young guys play too but let’s not get that far ahead of ourselves. Plugging in 2-4 rookies on a roster is ok but we don’t want to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates!

StLunatic88
4 years 10 months ago

Pitching Staff: I dont see where they can go get another Arm, its just not fiscally reasonable to do so. Now they could go back to the well with Brad Penny, and give him a cheep, all incentive deal, and rely on him and the young guys in Ottavino to fill the 5 spot. Most likely to happen. Maybe another project vet to a Minor league deal. But Westbrook is almost certainly out of the question.

Shortstop: This is Brendan Ryan’s spot, I dont know why people thing they will be upgrading there. His first half under the Mendoza line was awful, but his defense was still top notch all seasn. He had about a week span where he had a mental lapse but the rest of the year was great. He isnt moving from there. his .252 average in the 2nd half is more what you should expect, and with his defense is actually just fine.

Second Base: clearly the spot where an upgrade is needed. Skip played his heart out but he is not a 2nd basemen. And by moving him out of there, he automatically upgrades the bench as the 4th OF and a emergency 2B. If they can get a top of the order bat it would be perfect.

Right Field: They will go with Jon Jay if need be, but fiding an upgrade to where he and Skip are the 4th/5th OF would make it much better. Ive been thinking about the Ludwick situation plenty of times, Are the Padres goin to pay him the near $10 mil he could get in Arbitration? They didnt really give up anything to get him. But a Power Bat is what they need to look for.

Third Base: They hope that David Freese could make a comeback, But you cant count on that, you need a backup plan, and maybe its actually Plan A. I would love to make a run at Beltre on a short contract, but not sure if that would happen. But If Freese looks to be on thrack, then a guy like Feliz wouldnt be bd for cheep, but Aaron Miles should be no where near this roster. Maybe a guy who can play both 3rd and 2nd as a backup plan.

Bench: If they can Move both Skip and Jay to the bench, its an automatic Upgrade. They will be looking for a Catcher who can actually play once a week, and be a bat off the bench. And the safety blanket for 3B will be one of the others (could be Freese)

They have alot of work to do…

Red_Line_9
4 years 10 months ago

I’m going to guess that the Cardinals business-side knows exactly what Albert Pujols is asking for at this point. They are probably working toward that offer….maybe an extention of some kind before finalizing a deal that will keep Pujols a Cardinal for life.

Someone was speaking of the difference between $25 in St. Louis and $30 million in New York or LA. There might be a point there in a flat context, but does the money really matter that much to Pujols at this point? The man’s family won’t have to hold a job for generations, so I’m guessing $5 mil won’t be a sticking point…unless there is a pride issue.