August 30, 2017

#StlCards dump Mike Leake for a sack of hammers and free money

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, two and a half years ago, signed a B-grade John Lackey in former Reds stalwart Mike Leake, after losing the original John Lackey to the Cubs, for the same per-year price as Lackey, only for at least three if not four years longer.

It is Mo's second-worst big splash in the free agent market, as I berated it at the time,  topped by the Dexter Fowler inking, for which I also reamed out Mo.

But, now he's gone. Through waivers. To the Mariners. For Raydar Ascanio. Who?

"Minor league depth" is his actual name, as this is all he will ever be. (Redbird Rants laughingly said he still needs to fill into his body. He's 21, in his fourth full year in the minors; shouldn't he have at least started doing that already? Reality is that he's had a 3-game cup of coffee with AAA this year. And, that's his ONLY play above high-A ball. ZERO at AA. Derrick Gould takes a middle ground between RR and me.)

Well, and $750K in international cap space.

That said, on the plus side, this is a clear salary dump. The Mariners appear to be eating the whole remaining portion of the contract. Update: The P-D's newest says that "cash considerations" were sent to the M's as well. So, how much of the contract the Cardinals are eating, even while getting no player above "minor league depth," is ... interesting.

Update 2, 9 p.m.: The P-D piece updates to quote Ken Rosenthal that the Birds are eating $17 million. Yikes.

I mean, if Mo had to eat half the contract, he should have gotten more in return. Or even with eating a third.

And, a day later, the Barves just got a AAA catcher for Tony Phillips.

As for Leake and my comments up top?

Actually, that's not quite fair, perhaps. Leake is maybe a B-plus John Lackey, not a B-grade Lackey. But, we didn't need a back-of-the rotation pitcher so badly as to sign one to a five-year deal, let alone with a sixth option year. (It's a mutual option, not a player option, so that's not quite so bad as a player option.) He may not be a No. 5 starter, but he's no better than No. 3.

And, this should mean the team is focused on resigning Lance Lynn, which is good. That said, Lynn just said today that he's had "zero communications" with the team.

He also seemed as caught off-guard as anybody else, with the classic "I just work here" comment.

Well, good luck with that resigning, Mo and your new flunky Mike Girsch.

Considering Carlos Martinez remains inconsistent, Adam Wainwright is clearly near the end of his career, Michael Wacha is still not a guaranteed long-term starter, Trevor Rosenthal is headed to Tommy John land and Alex Reyes is recuperating from his, the Cards need Lynn, even if he's as much a No. 2 as a No. 1 starter. And, he looks to be in the catbird seat.

That said, from that original post?

It's now funnier than ever to look back on how St. Louis' paper of record, and paper of overpaid publishers, Ben Hochman tried to sell fandom on Leake, with a very selective column. When you ignore his low K rate and tout him as a batting pitcher (when in reality he's nowhere near a Zack Greinke and hasn't been plus-.200 since 2012), you're stretching.

Worse, shock me, Jeff Gordon was right, and for the second time in a week. Somebody must have spiked his coffee. Gordo honestly called him a No. 4/5 starter (while noting that he's a good ground ball pitcher that could benefit from pitching in St. Louis). Even as contracts inflate, you don't give those guys what Mo just paid. (That said, note to Gordo: Tyler Lyons was 27 himself at the time you wrote. Same age as Leake. There's no more "too soon" or "rushing him." He's not an MLB starter, not from this corner's perspective.)

And, per today's news, nobody at St. Louis' paper of record could get the scoop on the cash payout themselves? Had to ask Ken Rosenthal? (Rosey's a great baseball reporter, but, you should know your own team that well.) And Hummel not Goold breaking this, or "breaking" this?

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