September 14, 2011

#StlCards: Does Carpenter signing help or hurt #Pujols staying?

First, let me say I like the deal the St. Louis Cardinals made with Chris Carpenter. Rolling his $11 million option year for 2012 into a two-year, $21M deal provides stability and depth on the pitching staff as the Birds wait to see how well Adam Wainwright comes back next year. And, given the shakiness of Jaime Garcia, the crappiness of Jake Westbrook and other issues, the pitching staff could use both stability and depth.

Also, it lets the team boot either Westbrook or Kyle Lohse out of the rotation. Or trade whichever one has more trade value.

As ESPN notes, this deal also impacts the possibility, or likelihood of resigning Albert Pujols, and also, to a degree, Lance Berkman.

And, ESPN is thinking on the lines of what I did this spring, when Fat Elvis was picked up. The team could decide not to pay big for The Machine and move Berkman to 1B. That assumes the team guesstimates a possible fanbase hit, in terms of ticket sales, would be less than a Pujols contract hit.

But, with Pujols making a hard late push to continue his .300/30 HR/100 RBI streak of years, the "he's washed/washing up" argument appears out the door, vs., at least in part, the "he was pressing" part. Don't forget, he was possibly not only trying to prove himself contract worthy, but pick up the slack of the team missing Wainwright.

Beyond the ticket sales vs. contract financials of a popular face, assuming the Cards don't re-sign Pujols and at the same time don't pull a Kansas City and sit on all the money, who do they add? The middle-infield free agent crop is iffy, and that's the biggest need besides more good pitching arms.

The Birds could, I guess, make a run at theoretically mid-priced Jimmy Rollins, if they don't re-sign Pujols. And, if they don't, even if they do re-sign Berkman, I don't think that's enough to halfway mollify the fan base, or, even with the Brewers facing their own free agent issues, to be "content" in the NL Central.

Or maybe the Cards can spend money on getting a better manager than Tony the Pony. I totally agree with ESPN's "overmanaging" assessment.

Speaking of, the Chicago Sun-Times' reporting of what is more wishful thinking, even, than rumor is interesting, namely, the idea that the Cubbies will try to sign the triumvirate of former Cards' GM Walt Jocketty, followed by Pujols and La Russa, is interesting. To you Cubs fans: Two out of three wouldn't be bad.

Jocketty, overall, was better than John Mozeliak is now, for a number of reasons. One of them is that he wasn't as much a La Russa pushover as Mo is. And, he was a good GM overall. Assuming Theo Epstein and Billy Beane aren't magically available (and how dumb is it, in his case with the A's, for ownership to give a GM an ownership stake?) it would be hard to do better than Jocketty. For bolstering the lineup and the fan base, it would be hard to do better than Pujols.

You can do better than La Russa, though. Giving Quade another year's chance would be better. Beyond the over-managing, Cubs fans, you'd probably get a twist on Lou Pinella, an elderly manager who burns out after a couple of years.

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