St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
With Spring Training in full swing, wonderful stories from present and past are always emerging. Take Rays starter Chris Archer, who is not just fighting for a spot on Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster, but is on a quest for self-discovery. (As told by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.) Or today's matchup between former and current Padres workhorses Jake Peavy and Clayton Richard, who were traded for one another back at the 2009 trade deadline. (Courtesy of Corey Brock of MLB.com.) Or, going back further still, recall Roberto Clemente, whose presence was felt strongly in Fort Myers, FL during his playing days and lives on vividly today. (From David Dorsey of News-Press.com.) On to some National League notes ...
- While there was never a question who would cover the right-field grass for Pittsburgh when Clemente was roaming Forbes Field, the team must find someone to man that role in 2013. Jose Tabata has shown hustle and power this spring that have exceeded the Pirates' expectations, Tom Singer of MLB.com writes. Still just 24 years old, Tabata’s strong showing thus far has only further complicated Pittsburgh’s right field situation. As Singer explains, in addition to Tabata and trade-deadline acquisition Travis Snider (who the team hopes will lay claim to the position), the Pirates are considering options like Clint Robinson, Jerry Sands, Alex Presley, Garrett Jones, Felix Pie, Darren Ford, and Brad Hawpe.
- Also making a surprising impression in Pirates camp is right-handed reliever Brooks Brown, who Singer says has emerged as an unexpected favorite to earn a spot in the Bucs' bullpen. Brown was selected by Arizona in the first round back in 2006, but has yet to make a big league appearance.
- Another darkhorse bullpen candidate who appears to be making strong moves towards a roster spot is the Nationals' Fernando Abad. As reported by The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, with fellow left-handed relievers Bill Bray, Will Ohman, and Brandon Mann being sent to minor league camp, the 27-year-old minor-league-invitee Abad now stands as the most likely candidate to round out the Washington bullpen should the Nationals decide to keep another lefty alongside Zach Duke. (Ohman was apparently cut during today's game, just after his poor outing, according to Mark Townsend of Yahoo.)
- The Nationals also welcomed back catcher Wilson Ramos, who made his first appearance in a game since tearing his ACL early in the 2012 season, reports James Wagner of The Washington Post. Ramos will likely split time with Kurt Suzuki as soon as he is able to catch regularly.
- With Rafael Furcal being shut down indefinitely after a setback in his recovery from the elbow injury he suffered late last season, the Cardinals are planning what GM John Mozeliak is calling “an open competition” at shortstop, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. After emerging last season when Furcal went down, Pete Kozma will battle with veteran Ronny Cedeno for the starting job out of camp.
- The Dodgers' outstanding young starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, says that he is not thinking about whether or not he can top the Felix Hernandez contract, Tracy Ringolsby or MLB.com writes. Kershaw explains that he'll "play the game the same way" regardless of salary because "it's the best job you could have. ... I talk to my buddies all the time. They are putting on suits and ties, and going to the office every day. I put on a uniform and play a game."
The Cardinals are better-positioned for success over the next five years than any other team in the majors, according to the latest edition of ESPN's Future Power Rankings (Insider subscription required). Jim Bowden, Keith Law and Buster Olney rank each club in five categories (Major League roster, minor league system, finances, management and mobility) and the Cards have the best overall grade, jumping to #1 after finishing third in the last edition of the rankings in August.
Here's the latest from around the league as we head into March...
- The Yankees usually don't offer to extend players before their contracts are up but GM Brian Cashman tells reporters (including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News) that the club is flexible in this regard, such as when the Yankees tried to extend Russell Martin last season and their current talks with Robinson Cano. "Since we’re the team, we have the right to change our mind and adjust the policy whenever – especially ownership. It’s not like it’s a country club and here’s the code of conduct that we can’t deviate from," Cashman said.
- The Yankees may be reacting to criticism from fans that they're sacrificing short-term competitiveness in order to get under the luxury tax cap by 2014, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Sherman argues that if the team's management wasn't feeling this pressure, Cashman wouldn't have told the media about the team's "significant offer" to Cano.
- The Giants and Phillies were both interested in Indians closer Chris Perez this offseason, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Dodgers were also linked to Perez this winter, as the Tribe was shopping Perez due to his large salary and his criticism of both the team's management and Cleveland's fanbase last season.
- Chris Snyder has an out clause in his minor league deal with the Nationals that will allow him to request his release if he isn't on the club's Major League roster by March 24, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports. It could be a tough fit for Snyder as Comak notes the Nats' 25-man roster is virtually set.
- Omar Quintanilla was re-signed by the Mets since the team wanted infield depth if Ruben Tejada was dealt for Justin Upton, a Mets source tells John Harper of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). We heard earlier this week that the Mets explored a trade that would've brought Upton to Citi Field in exchange for pitching prospects and one of Tejada or Daniel Murphy.
- Baseball America's Matt Eddy recaps the week's minor league transactions.
Three NL Central teams had winning records in 2012, but the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers won't get the chance to play the Astros regularly anymore. The Pirates narrowly missed a .500 record in 2012, and the Cubs' pitching staff looks much deeper following a busy offseason for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, so it now looks like the division will be tougher in 2013. Here are some NL Central notes, starting with the Cardinals’ top starter...
- The Cardinals will be able to afford an extension for Adam Wainwright if they truly want to retain the right-hander long-term, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. With TV revenue on its way to St. Louis and a strong player development system in place, the Cardinals could likely afford Wainwright. They must now determine whether they value him at $20MM-plus per season for four or five years.
- The Cubs haven't shied away from veterans of Tommy John surgery, since pitchers like Arodys Vizcaino have considerable upside, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
- The Pirates took a similar approach to their division rivals, signing Jose Contreras to a minor league deal even though he's still recovering from the Tommy John operation that he underwent last June. GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates' scouts have always been impressed with Contreras, Tom Singer of MLB.com reports. "We felt this was a low-risk acquisition that can help this team at some point this summer," Huntington said. Contreras threw off a mound in front of Pirates personnel before completing his deal.
On this day in 2007, the Twins signed Liam Hendriks as an amateur free agent out of Australia. Hendriks, 24, has struggled in the Majors to date but owns a solid minor league track record. He has twice cracked Baseball America's list of Top 10 Twins prospects and boasts a 2.95 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 155 2/3 Triple-A innings. He'll fight for a rotation spot with the Twins this Spring. Here are some links pertaining to baseball's two Central divisions...
- New Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter told ESPN's Jayson Stark that his comments about the Angels and owner Arte Moreno following the Josh Hamilton signing were a "joke that went bad." At the time, Hunter tweeted that Moreno must have had "some money under a mattress," as he'd been told the team couldn't afford him. Hunter praised the Angels' organization and said he's enjoying his time with the Tigers so far.
- The Indians could look to trade outfielder Ezequiel Carrera near the end of Spring Training, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Carrera is out of options, and the Tribe has no doubt that they would lose the 25-year-old if they placed him on waivers in an attempt to send him to Triple-A.
- Former AL MVP Justin Morneau couldn't have picked a better time to get healthy, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. The 31-year-old Twins slugger is set to hit free agency following the season and could find himself a midseason trade candidate, extension candidate, or the recipient of a qualifying offer with a strong, healthy season.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders if Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras could be the next 20-year-old to take the Majors by storm. Taveras, however, doesn't have a clear path to the Majors given the presence of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran.
Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras has returned to MDR Sports and longtime agent Melvin Roman, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The 20-year-old left Roman's company in late January to join up with Rob Plummer but it would seem that he has had a change of heart.
Taveras is universally regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball with most prospect gurus having him in their top three. The outfielder reached Double-A last year and could join the Cards' varsity squad in 2013. In 531 plate appearances last season, Taveras posted a .321/.380/.572 slash line with 23 home runs.
For agency info on over 1,700 players, check out MLBTR's Agency Database. Agents: if you've got a 40-man roster player or top prospect whose representation is not correctly noted, we welcome corrections at email@example.com.
It was on this day in 1986 that Rollie Fingers chose his mustache over the Reds. The veteran closer was offered a Spring Training invite by the Reds on the condition that Fingers shave his famous handlebar in order to meet with the team's facial hair policies. Fingers turned the deal down and instead retired, ending his 17-year Major League career and paving the way for his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame.
Here's the latest from around the NL Central...
- The Cardinals exchanged figures with Alex Gonzalez this offseason but couldn't come to terms, and the veteran shortstop instead signed with the Brewers, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. The Cards' best offer was a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $1MM plus another $1MM if Gonzalez made the roster, which couldn't top Gonzalez's deal with Milwaukee. A dozen teams scouted Gonzalez's offseason workout sessions, with the Red Sox and Dodgers showing particular interest in the 36-year-old.
- Steve Hammond, Adam Wainwright's agent, is out of the country for the next 10 days so there won't be any immediate extension talks between Wainwright and the Cardinals, B.J. Rains of St. Louis 1380 AM Radio reports (via Twitter). We heard on Monday that both sides were keeping the lines of communication open about a new contract for the ace right-hander.
- Dontrelle Willis talks to CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney about his career, his short-lived retirement, his controversial exit from the Orioles organization and his return to the Cubs on a minor league contract.
- The Pirates are desperate for success but ESPN's Buster Olney notes that the team must weigh the short-term benefit of a winning season against the long-term costs (both developmentally and financially) of calling up young starters Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted earlier today that the Pirates could prevent Cole from gaining Super Two eligibility by delaying his callup until mid-June.
While both the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright have advertised a pause in contract talks, the lines of communication are open and conversations continue to occur between both parties, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The pitcher had said that talks were on hold as recently as last week.
While Albert Pujols' relationship with the Cards front office became strained during the negotiation process, things remain solid between the club and Wainwright. When asked if Wainwright’s talks had assumed an edge similar to Pujols’ in 2011, one party familiar with the process told Strauss, “Not even close. And I’d bet anything it won’t.”
The supposed break from talks allowed both sides to get out of giving daily progress reports to the press while also allowing the Cardinals to reevaluate their position. The Cards will either have to raise the average annual value of their offer or give in to Wainwright's request for a longer pact with a lower AAV. The 31-year-old, who has finished top three Cy Young Award balloting in two of his last three available seasons, is said to be seeking more than five years guaranteed.
Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio predicts Kyle Lohse will sign with either the Brewers or Rangers as one of five moves which will happen this spring (Insider subscription required). Bowden also sees extensions for Adam Wainwright and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Here's the other Senior Circuit news and notes from the first Sunday of Spring Training:
- Count the Phillies out as suitors for Lohse as GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is prepared to go with the staff he has in camp, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- Lohse will only become of interest to the Cardinals if their rotation candidates aren't panning out during Spring Training, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman in a piece outlining six reasons why the Redbirds remain playoff contenders.
- One reason for the Cardinals making the postseason in three of the last four years is being ranked as one of the NL's top four teams in terms of innings pitched by the starting rotation, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goold notes this year’s rotation is set to include four starters, beyond Wainwright, who combined have just one 190-inning season.
- The Mets could use catcher John Buck as trade bait once they promote Travis d'Arnaud in the opinion of ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, who cites the precedent of when David Wright took over at third base.
- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News cautions the Mets to be prudent with their newfound financial flexibility if they dive into next year's free agent outfield pool. Madden lists Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Hunter Pence (all ranked in the top ten of MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings) as possible targets.
Here's a look at the latest out of the National League Central..
- We recently heard that agent Scott Boras is working hard to sell the Angels on Kyle Lohse and owner Mark Attanasio says that he is doing the same with the Brewers. "Our ears are always open. We don't want to lead our fans on in any way. There's not an active conversation. But our ears are always open. [GM] Doug [Melvin] and his group are always looking to improve the team," said the owner, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
- Marco Scutaro had a two-year, $18MM offer from the Cardinals on the table but instead took a three-year, $20MM deal to remain with the Giants, writes Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Scutaro's representatives told the Giants early on in the offseason that $20MM over three years would get the job done and they held true to their word, despite a higher average annual value and a recruiting pitch from Matt Holliday.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if the Cardinals are too old. The Cards have an average age of 30.5, making them the fourth oldest team in the majors behind the Yankees, Phillies, and Rangers.
The Phillies have been a playoff contender for the better part of the past half decade, but time and a decline in talent may mean the window of opportunity is quickly closing at Citizens Bank Park, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. "A lot of it will depend on how people perform, on how the young players perform," Amaro said. "At some point we're going to be filtering some young players onto this club and we need to find out who needs to be those guys to keep us going, to keep us afloat." Here's the latest news from around the National League.
- Scott Boras believes the market is heating up for his unsigned clients like Kyle Lohse and Jose Valverde thanks to the start of Spring Training, says Adam Berry of MLB.com. "Like most free agents with that kind of ability, I think you get all kinds of calls. Frankly the calls increase during Spring Training rather than decrease because the need level of each club is more evident," Boras said. "These are ownership decisions at this point. The talent is there.
- Walt Weiss must put his stamp on every aspect of his squad as he enters the 2013 season as the Rockies first-year manager, writes Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post. Renck points to Todd Helton as the starting point with his declining skills, inability to play a full season and the lingering DUI arrest that must be addressed by the veteran first baseman in front of the team.
- John Mozeliak's contract extension from the Cardinals stems from his linear integration model that has paid dividends in the form of victories at the Major League level, says Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I think he’s got a real sense of how to make a decision and a recommendation and not panicking into doing something that is good for the moment,” Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said.