Skip Schumaker Rumors
The Brewers have gone 8-2 over their last 10 games to pull away in the NL Central race, currently leading by 8.5 games. There's more to this division than just the standings though, as shown in this collection of links:
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch has some quotes from Pirates GM Neal Huntington on top prospect Jameson Taillon. Huntington says that while the 2010 No. 2 overall pick's numbers aren't spectacular -- a 4.52 ERA through 79 2/3 innings -- he's been working heavily on his fastball command. Huntington says Taillon can overpower Low-A hitters with his breaking ball but has gotten hit trying to improve his heater.
- In the same piece, Langosch reports that Paul Maholm will see Dr. James Andrews for a second evaluation of his shoulder. Huntington cautions not to read too much into it, but Maholm's shoulder is worth keeping an eye on as it could impact a major financial decision; the Buccos hold a $9.75MM option on Maholm for 2012 that comes with a $750K buyout.
- Skip Schumaker's 2012 contract status is questionable, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals could non-tender Schumaker this offeseason.
- In Nick Cafardo's Sunday column for the Boston Globe, he says that Major League owners are "wading through a lot of personal stuff" on prospective Astros buyer Jim Crane before approving him. Crane has had complaints filed against him in the past by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Cardinals have slipped to eight games back of the Reds in the NL Central race, and the division title is looking increasingly out of reach for St. Louis. So rather than focusing on this season, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previews the coming winter, asking a few questions about what the team's future holds. Here are some highlights of Strauss' piece:
- Locking up Albert Pujols is the club's top priority; the Cards will likely have trouble adding another impact bat until they know what sort of money they'll be committing to their top hitter for the next several years.
- "Strong opinion exists" at the major league level that the Cards' Triple-A and Double-A affiliates won't produce an impact position player for at least the next couple seasons. Strauss points out that the team hasn't signed many minor league free agents in recent years, and that the organization might have to rethink that strategy to provide depth and insurance for the big league roster.
- The Cards may need to look into acquiring more offense at its middle infield spots, since Brendan Ryan (.573 OPS) and Skip Schumaker (.680 OPS) have contributed very little at the plate.
- It's still up in the air whether Tony La Russa will be back to manage in St. Louis next season. If he does, there are questions about his relationship with Colby Rasmus. According to Strauss' club sources, Rasmus requested a trade earlier this year due to his frustrations with the Cards' skipper.
We'll keep tabs of any players that avoid arbitration here...
- MLB.com's Matthew Leach tweets that the Cardinals and Skip Schumaker have agreed to a two-year deal, avoiding arbitration. The AP (via SI.com) reports that Schumaker will earn $2MM in 2010 and $2.7MM in 2011, with another $300K in performance bonuses. He had filed for $2.75MM, the team $1.45MM.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reflects on Eric Byrnes' time with the D'Backs.
- Skip Schumaker tells MLB.com's Matthew Leach that he and the Cardinals are nearing an agreement on a 2010 contract.
- MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins were willing to offer $20MM to Aroldis Chapman.
- MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes that a handful of teams have contacted Jim Thome, including the Rays, though nothing is imminent.
- Owner Tom Ricketts defended general manager Jim Hendry this Saturday at the Cubs' annual convention, according to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.
- Shi Davidi from the Canadian Press spoke with both Justin Morneau and Jeff Francis at Baseball Canada's Annual Awards Banquet Saturday. Morneau expects to begin full workouts in a couple of weeks as a season-ending stress fracture in his back appears to have healed without issue. Francis is recovering from shoulder surgery but expects to be ready for Spring Training.
- Bill Ladson tweets that Ryan Zimmerman thinks the Nationals are having their best offseason since he's been with the organization. Some of the larger moves we've seen the Nats make include signing Jason Marquis, Matt Capps, and Ivan Rodriguez, in addition to trading for Brian Bruney.
- Eric Chavez told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he is comfortable with shifting to a utility role after the addition of third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter) "overheard" that the Brewers will sign at least one more pitcher. Recently, Milwaukee outrighted pitcher Omar Aguilar to Triple-A, though assistant GM Gord Ash claimed it wasn't in anticipation of an acquisition.
- ESPN's Buster Olney writes that the Marlins didn't give Josh Johnson an extension just to appease the "Powers That Be". Those within the organization expected the deal to get done well before the joint press release from the commissioner's office and the players' union.
- Olney also writes that the Marlins are still looking for bullpen help and will sift through the remaining free agent relievers, including Kiko Calero. Florida declined to offer arbitration to Calero, to avoid giving him a raise on his $500K salary in 2009.
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak conducted a Q&A session with fans this afternoon. Here are some highlights courtesy of Joe Strauss (via Twitter) and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as Matthew Leach of MLB.com...
- Mozeliak says that discussions with Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick - both of whom are arbitration eligible - are confined to one season. Ludwick had a down year in 2009 as he turned in an OPS of .775, his lowest as a Cardinal. The two parties avoided arbitration last year by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.7MM. The figure was an even compromise as the outfielder requested $4.25MM and the organization submitted $2.8MM. Meanwhile, Schumaker is arbitration eligible for the first time in his career and should see a pay bump as he has had similar offensive production this season at second base after moving in from the outfield.
- The return of Rick Ankiel would be a "longshot" according to Mozeliak as the club cannot offer him the at-bats that he wants. We haven't heard any word of Ankiel being close to signing with a club, but his agent Scott Boras claims to be having "a lot of conversation" about the 30-year-old.
- St. Louis is not entertaining the idea of inviting Jim Edmonds to camp. The 39-year-old last played in 2008 for the Padres and the Cubs, where he posted .235/.343/.479 and 20 HRs in 401 plate appearances.
- Mozeliak confirmed that the club will watch Ben Sheets throw next week, though Leach writes that he's not likely to be a fit for St. Louis.
The Cardinals committed $120MM over seven years to Matt Holliday yesterday; he'll be paid $17MM in each year of the deal (with $2MM deferred annually). Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the contract "leaves the club with little financial space to address the No. 5 starter, the opening at third base and the wish to add a reliever."
Miguel Tejada and Felipe Lopez are known third base targets for the Cardinals, but Goold says either player would be difficult to fit into the budget based on current demands. Goold's colleague Joe Strauss says Tejada and Lopez are probably out "unless their market collapses." Goold expects David Freese to get a crack at the hot corner, with internal candidates filling the fifth starter role as well. The CHONE projection system has Freese hitting .269/.335/.442 in 2010, which wouldn't be any worse than Tejada and Lopez's projections.
The Cards could add an affordable left-handed bench bat via free agency, and Goold says Ryan Church is one name on the radar. As for the bullpen, Goold speculates on Octavio Dotel and notes that a Russ Springer reunion has been discussed. The Cardinals' offseason financial flexibility will hinge on the arbitration cases of Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker. Goold wouldn't be surprised to see March bargains or midseason additions if the Cardinals stay quiet over the next few months.
Some Cardinals-related Sunday morning links....
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff hears from a source "in the loop" that when Matt Holliday hits free agency, the outfielder's top choices are the Yankees and the Mets.
- Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune provides a Windy City perspective on Albert Pujols' future in St. Louis. Unsurprisingly, it's bleak, even going so far as to wonder if Pujols could someday be a Cub. I think Rogers might be jumping to conclusions a little too early.
- Rogers also thinks Tony La Russa ought to just sign a one-year contract with St. Louis, or even take a year off, considering all the big-market managerial openings that next winter could bring.
- The Cardinals have finally found their answer at second base, in Skip Schumaker, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 29-year-old infielder is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason.
According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Skip Schumaker second base experiment is not going well. So far it's been a learning experience for Schumaker defensively. Tony La Russa's internal options: Brendan Ryan, Brian Barden, Joe Thurston, Tyler Greene, and Jarrett Hoffpauir.
Strauss believes Cardinals GM John Mozeliak may explore a trade to fill the position rather than sign a free agent. Aside from possibly Dan Uggla, though, the trade market doesn't seem to offer anyone better than Ray Durham and Mark Grudzielanek.
MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that the Cardinals have agreed to contracts with 17 pre-arbitration players, including Skip Schumaker, Chris Perez and Brendan Ryan.
In a blog update for the Daily News, Tony Jackson reports that, according to the second baseman himself, "several other teams" had multi-year offers out to Orlando Hudson. Who were those teams?
According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals may have been one of them. Strauss has a quote from Cardinals' GM John Mozeliak: “We checked it out because we obviously are looking at ways to fill the position, and somewhat to gauge where the market was going."
As for what the Cardinals plan to do with second base in the near future, Strauss writes:
The Cardinals continue to audition Skip Schumaker at the position with Brendan Ryan and Joe Thurston representing his primary competition.
“I’m comfortable with what we have in camp,” Mozeliak said. “Ultimately, if we have to address it, we have another five or six weeks to do so.”
I understand the Cardinals' perspective here, but I still wonder if Mozeliak isn't even thinking about calling the agent of Mark Grudzielanek.