Shelby Miller Rumors
Hall of Fame and Cardinal icon Stan Musial passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Today, tributes are pouring in ranging from fans outside the Stan the Man statue at Busch Stadium (St. Louis Post-Dispatch video) to the White House (h/t MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch). Daniel Solzman of Redbirdrants.com even suggests the Cardinals name the playing field at Busch Stadium in honor of Musial. The Cardinals are holding their 17th annual fanfest this weekend and, while the Musial official memorabilia booth was closed today in tribute to the St. Louis legend, players still made their appearances and made some news.
- Chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. says the club is prepared to increase payroll in the coming years, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold adds the 2013 payroll is around $115MM.
- Adam Wainwright, who is entering the final year of his contract, admitted the Cardinals approached him about a contract extension during the final month of this past regular season, Goold reports. Wainwright said he wanted to focus on the playoff stretch and "it wasn’t going to hurt my case to just wait it out and see where some of these guys signed."
- On the upcoming Wainwright extension talks, Goold, within the same piece, quoted GM John Mozeliak as saying, "It’s going to be long. It’s going to be expensive."
- Wainwright has become a mentor to pitching prospect Shelby Miller, Goold writes in a separate article. Miller, who will compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, says he doesn't know what he was thinking last offseason when he "was trying to be a beach bod" with his workout regimen. Miller's performance suffered and the club questioned the right-hander's conditioning. Enter Wainwright who exchanged texts with Miller throughout the season and challenged him to reach training camp at a weight that would help his strength and durability.
- While Miller has gained enough pounds to reach his playing weight, Jake Westbrook's outlook on the offseason is to copy last year's regimen in hopes of slimming down, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. "It worked out so well last year that I thought I would just do it again," Westbrook said.
- The injury reports on Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Rafael Furcal are positive, according to Langosch.
- Mozeliak says second base is Daniel Descalso's "job to lose," but he is open-minded about Matt Carpenter making a push for playing time there, writes Langosch.
- Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he only became the Cardinals' manager because of losses he sustained in a failed real estate venture. A Missouri judge recently ruled Matheny and his wife owe more than $4MM from that deal plus interest and court costs. Matheny will earn $750K in the final guaranteed year of his contract.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow's vision to rebuild the franchise is a club that grows and develops its players but can spend when it needs to thanks to increased revenue from a new local cable partnership with Comcast, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
- There will be competition for at least one spot in the Cardinals' starting rotation, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold. Goold theorizes that competition will pit incumbent Lance Lynn against Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Shelby Miller.
- In a separate piece, Goold named the seven best starting pitching prospects in the Cardinals' system that have yet to exhaust their rookie eligibility, including the aforementioned Rosenthal and Miller.
- Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lists five reasons for optimism and five reasons for concern for the 2013 Cardinals.
- After speaking with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the distinct impression that Ryan Braun will be penalized in the voting for NL MVP because of his failed drug test last year and subsequent successful appeal. Haudricourt also believes the failed drug test played a role in Buster Posey being named the NL winner of the Hank Aaron Award instead of Braun.
- The Cubs have hired Derek Johnson to become their new minor league pitching coordinator, tweets Baseball America's Aaron Fitt. Johnson was Associate Head Coach/pitching coach at Vanderbilt where he tutored six pitchers who were drafted in the first round including David Price and Sonny Gray.
Baseball has always been a game for the young and old alike and today captured that sentiment perfectly. First, the young. The Rangers' Jurickson Profar made his Major League debut a memorable one by becoming the second youngest player and only the third teenager to homer in his first career at-bat. Profar, a last-minute substitute at second base for Ian Kinsler, also doubled becoming the youngest player since Andruw Jones (1996) to hit a four-bagger and a two-bagger in his debut and the first AL player to do so since Ken Griffey Jr. (1989). Now, the old. The Astros celebrated Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton's 85th birthday with a bobblehead day and induction into the Houston Baseball Media Wall of Honor. This year marks Hamilton's 59th and final season calling baseball games. Elsewhere around baseball:
- Stephen Strasburg will make two more starts for the Nationals with his final one coming September 12 against the Mets, tweets MASNSports.com's Dan Kolko. Manager Davey Johnson made the announcement following the Nationals' 4-3 win over the Cardinals. In separate tweets from Kolko, GM Mike Rizzo confirmed Strasburg's shutdown date saying, "That seems like the right number of innings to end his season. I don't think he's going to fight me on it. I know he'll be unhappy about it. He's an ultimate competitor."
- The Cardinals have decided to include top pitching prospect Shelby Miller in their batch of September call-ups this week, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Miller, the team's first round pick in 2009 who has created concerns over his conditioning and willingness to be coached, redeemed himself in his last ten starts at Triple-A Memphis amassing a 7-2 record, 2.88 ERA, 70 K's, and seven walks while limiting opposing hitters to a .217 average. Strauss says there is no plan for Miller to receive a start and will be used in mop-up situations. The Cardinals will have to add Miller to the 40-man roster before activating him.
- Brandon Inge will likely have season-ending surgery this week after re-injuring his right shoulder last night, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Inge says he wants to return to the A's next season in a utility role, if they will have him.
- Catcher Paul Phillips has decided to call it a career and become a coach at Lipscomb University, tweets the Colorado Sky Sox PR Department (Rockies' Triple-A club). Phillips spent 2012 playing for the Brewers' and Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliates. Phillips, who last appeared in the majors in 2010 with the Rockies, will finish with a slash line of .262/.298/.357 in 91 games over seven seasons with the Royals, White Sox, and Rockies.
The NL Central includes the Senior Circuit's most potent offense (the Cardinals) and its lowest-scoring team (the Cubs). The Cardinals outscore the Cubs by more than one run per game (4.88 runs per game vs. 3.69). Here are the latest links from the NL Central...
- The Astros are telling teams they're open to more trades, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Even Jed Lowrie, who has been on the disabled list with a sprained ankle for the past two weeks, is available.
- Brewers president of baseball operations Doug Melvin joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM and explained how the Zack Greinke trade went down (audio here).
- The Brewers released Seth McClung, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The right-hander, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2009, appeared in 21 games for Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate this year, posting a 6.36 ERA in 103 1/3 innings.
- The Cardinals have never been more open to trading pitching prospect Shelby Miller, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports. However, at least one team has lost interest in Miller.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum will be surprised if Ryan Dempster isn't traded, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Click here for the latest rumors surrounding the right-hander.
- The Pirates have moved Kevin Correia to the bullpen to make room for Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation and Correia isn't thrilled about it, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Angels could be interested in acquiring the California native, who says that he hopes to get back to being a starter.
- As it stands now, Greinke is scheduled to pitch against the Nationals on Sunday, but Nats skipper Davey Johnson doesn't expect to see the right-hander on the hill, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. "I'd be real surprised," Johnson said. "I know in the past if a ballclub's intent on making a move, you're not going to pitch him two days before the deadline."
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com handicaps the most likely destinations for Greinke and the Rangers top the list with 9-5 odds. The Red Sox are categorized as a longshot with 100-1 odds.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) believes that someone will bite on the Pirates' Kevin Correia as he is owed just $1MM for the rest of the year. The Bucs are reportedly sending signals that they could part with Correia after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez.
- Teams have expressed interest in Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. However, the Brewers would be have to be overwhelmed to trade either player.
- Brewers relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Manny Parra and Kameron Loe had been drawing interest, but their value “tanked” following a poor showing in Philadelphia this week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow suggested to Rosenthal that absorbing salary can help Houston obtain better prospects in trades. “In this environment, you’re limited in how much money you can spend on the draft, how much you can spend internationally,” Luhnow said, referring to the rules regulating amateur spending in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.
- Pitching prospect Shelby Miller is available in trade talks, yet the Cardinals don't appear anxious to make an impact deal, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Between baseball's two Central divisions, at least six teams figure to be buyers, and more could emerge depending on how the coming weeks play out. The White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Reds, Pirates, and Cardinals could all add pieces prior to July 31, and here are some links pertaining to those clubs...
- The Tigers are telling teams that top prospect Nick Castellanos is unavailable in any trade "at least right now," according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports echoes that sentiment, tweeting that he'd be "very surprised" if the Tigers move Castellanos for a rental (Twitter link).
- The Cardinals were one of the teams in on Ben Sheets prior to his signing with the Braves, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who adds that the Cards continue to look for upgrades to their rotation.
- Cardinals top prospect Shelby Miller has struggled in 2012, but B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest quotes GM John Mozeliak as saying, "Clearly we're still very high on him" (Twitter link).
- The Indians announced that Trevor Crowe has been released from Triple-A Columbus (on Twitter). The former No. 14 overall pick is now 28 years old and has managed just a .736 OPS in parts of five Triple-A seasons. He batted .245/.295/.329 in three Major League stints.
The Cardinals continue looking for starting pitching depth and the team will consider adding a left-handed reliever, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. GM John Mozeliak has suggested a major acquisition is less likely than a modest upgrade, Strauss writes.
Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels probably won’t be traded to St. Louis this year. The Cardinals are unwilling to trade from their MLB roster, but they may be willing to discuss trades for top pitching prospect Shelby Miller for the first time, according to Strauss. Miller, who entered the season as the 8th-best prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, has struggled in 17 starts at Triple-A, posting a 6.17 ERA.
Though second base is a potential area of need for the Cardinals, Strauss suggests the team is likely to focus on making moves to improve the pitching staff. I recently previewed the trade market for starting pitchers and second basemen.
The Reds signed Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman for $30.25MM on this date in 2010. The 23-year-old has a 3.27 ERA with 12.8 K/9 and 6.5 BB/9 through 63 1/3 innings in parts of two seasons with Cincinnati. He figures to join lefties Bill Bray and Sean Marshall in the Reds' revamped bullpen this year...
- The Reds’ one-year, $8.5MM contract with Ryan Madson is “perhaps the deal of the offseason so far,” ESPN.com’s Keith Law writes. Law says the Phillies seem like losers and that their four-year, $50MM deal with Jonathan Papelbon “looks absolutely comical.”
- The Cubs, who appear to be nearing a deal with Kerry Wood, reached out to the right-hander last night and stepped up their offer, David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com tweets. The Tigers and Phillies are fallback options for Wood, Kaplan notes.
- Cardinals pitching prospect Shelby Miller told Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that he's looking to pitch well in Spring Training and make it difficult for the team to keep him off of the MLB roster.
After suffering a three-game sweep in Milwaukee, the Cardinals sit a half-game behind both the Brew Crew in the NL Central and the Braves in the NL wild card race. Some notes from the Gateway City...
- St. Louis has enough payroll space to make a move before the trade deadline, but maybe just enough for one move, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach as part of a reader mailbag. He doesn't think the Cards would be able to acquire the likes of Jose Reyes, since "they have some prospects to trade, but not a truckload....My read is that they would upgrade another position with that 'one bullet,' such as the bullpen, rather than acquiring a shortstop," Leach says.
- Star prospects Zack Cox, Carlos Martinez (former known as Carlos Matias) and Shelby Miller are "considered untouchable" by the Cards in any trade talks this summer, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says he's heard a few names within the organization who are somewhat unexpectedly available in the right deal.
- The Cardinals have announced the signings of 27 picks from the 2011 amateur draft (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Twitter). Kansas State outfielder Nick Martini, a seventh-round selection, was the highest-drafted of the signed picks. Colby Rasmus' younger brother Casey, a 36th-round pick, also signed.
With a 4-13 record over their last 17 games, an eight-game deficit to make up in the NL Central, and a weekend series against an in-form Cincinnati club, the Cardinals could be looking ahead to next year by as soon as Monday. Let's get a head start on the process by examining what the St. Louis starting rotation may look like by Opening Day 2011.
Leading the way for the Cards are Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia. Carpenter is signed through 2011 and St. Louis has a club option worth $15MM in 2012 that they're certain to exercise if Carpenter remains as healthy and effective as he has been over the last two seasons. It's possible the Cards could explore an extension with Carpenter this winter, if they're not already too busy trying to extend Albert Pujols.
Wainwright seems well on his way to a top-five finish (at least) in the NL Cy Young voting, which will trigger a clause in his contract that guarantees the 2012 and 2013 club options St. Louis currently holds on the right-hander. Wainwright is set to earn $21MM over those two seasons, plus an extra $1MM should he actually win the Cy either this season or in 2011. The Cards were a virtual lock to pick up those team options anyway given how well Wainwright has pitched in his career.
If Wainwright is a bargain, then Garcia is a steal. The 24-year-old southpaw has a 2.33 ERA and a 2.03 K/BB in 25 starts this season and he carries a 20 1/3 scoreless inning streak into tonight's start against the Reds. Garcia doesn't reach arbitration until after the 2011 season, so he will remain a very affordable option for St. Louis unless the club tries to cover his arb years with a long-term deal. It's still just Garcia's first full major league year, so if the Redbirds do approach him with a long-term contract, it will be a step down from the Romero/Lester/Gallardo deals.
When Kyle Lohse signed a four-year, $41MM extension with St. Louis in September 2008, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes prophetically asked, "What are the odds this deal looks solid even halfway through?" Now that we're about halfway through the deal, it's indeed looking like a miss for the Cards. Lohse has battled forearm and groin injuries over the last two seasons and has a 5.55 ERA in 35 games (34 of them starts) over that stretch. Lohse will be pencilled into a spot in the 2011 rotation, since it would be hard for the Cardinals to eat the remaining $23.75MM owed to the right-hander and even harder to trade him. (Plus, Lohse has a no-trade clause.)
With four spots accounted for, the fifth rotation job is wide-open. The Cards' strategy over the last few winters has been to sign veterans (Rich Hill, Brad Penny, Matt Clement, Lohse in March 2008) to one-year or minor league contracts to see if pitching coach Dave Duncan can get them back into top form, so the team could pursue that option again. St. Louis might have gotten a head start on this strategy with the acquisition of Jake Westbrook at the trade deadline. Westbrook has pitched well (4.03 ERA, 5.67 K/BB ratio) in his first six National League starts, so he will come at a higher price than those other past winter signings should the Cardinals want to bring him back.
Another midseason pick-up, Jeff Suppan, hasn't performed as well and would only be brought back as roster depth. Penny could be another low-cost veteran option from the current roster. After signing a one-year, $7.5MM deal with the Cards last December, Penny had a solid first nine starts but hasn't pitched since May due to a back injury. The lingering nature of what was originally thought to be a minor back injury will definitely scare some teams away from the 32-year-old, so the Cardinals (who have been monitoring Penny's status all year) could bring the right-hander back if they're satisifed that he's healthy.
P.J. Walters, Blake Hawksworth and Adam Ottavino have started games for St. Louis this season, though all would need superb spring training performances to get into the running for the fifth starter's job. Baseball America projected Walters as a future middle reliever in the preseason, Hawksworth has pitched mostly out of the bullpen for St. Louis and Ottavino may be a question mark for the spring since he needs labrum surgery.
Shelby Miller, the top prospect in the St. Louis system, has only increased his stock in his first full season of pro ball. Miller, the 19th overall pick in the 2009 draft, has a 3.62 ERA and a 12.1 K/9 rate in 24 starts for Single-A Quad Cities. Baseball America had Miller rated as the 50th-best prospect in baseball in the preseason, and their midseason prospect report again slotted him in the #26-50 range. Miller doesn't even turn 20 until October 10, so the Cards will probably hold off his major league debut until 2012.
Other farm system options include southpaw Evan MacLane and right-handers Lance Lynn and Brandon Dickson, all of whom have had solid seasons in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League. All could factor in as spot starters or candidates for the No. 5 position. Keep an eye on right-hander Scott Gorgen, a fourth-round pick from the 2008 draft who has a 2.99 ERA in his 49-game minor league career thus far, including a 1.31 ERA in 10 games (eight starts) at Double-A this season.