Because we are all diehard Cardinals fans, and don't have nearly enough going on to keep us occupied during the course of a normal work day, all week some of us have been discussing various hot topics on the Cards.
The beauty of it is, when its your day to moderate, you pose a question and let the discussion go. Jump in as necessary.
Since I'm convinced somewhere in the deep Mideval past of my family we were actually named 'Murphy', it follows that today, my day to moderate, all hell would break loose at the office. Luckily, I had enough foresight to pose my questions of interest Tuesday night, so folks could chew on them all Wednesday.
What follows is a rough transcript of the discussion. Your players:
Me (playing myself)
Don (of Redbirdblog)
Bryan (of Rockin the Red)
haedar (of Redbird Ramblings)
Dan (of C70 at the bat)
Question #1 - We've discussed whether Reyes or Duncan would be on the team 1 August. One of the Cardinals consistent strengths since 2004 has been their bullpen (they get a bit of a pass last year because the starting 5 was so fluid; Franklin and Izzy were solid at the back of games). Is there anyone in our pen that might be an attractive trade option come July? If so who and why?
Don: If you assume the Cards will not be in contention in the NL Central by July (and, frankly, I'm not sure they won't hang around in the race for awhile), then I think Izzy becomes an attractive trade target for a contender that has issues at the back end of its 'pen. He's in the last year of his contract, and by all accounts Chris Perez is the closer-in-waiting.
Bryan: It partly depends on what the bullpen looks like in July. If Mulder, Clement, and Pineiro come back at their expected dates, along with Carpenter's estimated end of July/August arrival, the bullpen could look significantly different than it does now. Any of the current starters aside from Wainwright could be pushed into the 'pen when our guys get back and instantly become trade candidates. Kyle Lohse and Anthony Reyes are two names that come to mind. Out of the current bullpen, however, I think the only real trade candidates that would have value would be Ryan Franklin and Tyler Johnson. I think Isringhausen will stay with the team, as he wants to finish his career in St. Louis. Keep in mind he's from the area.
haedar: I gotta say springer would be the most enticing one. he is on a one year deal, he pitched pretty good last year and if he can match that his value will only rise. he is a grizzled veteran that has been through everything, the type of guy you need on a playoff team going for it all. the problem is he does not want to be traded, and he won't be. the other guy is obviously izzy, but he has said earlier that he will not waive his no trade clause so it's a lost cause.
Dan: Springer and Izzy are the obvious candidates, but don't forget the possibility that Looper could be back in the pen when all of the other arms get healthy. If he shows he can still do it there, he could be intriguing to some people that either need a fifth starter, a closer, or an 8th inning guy. All the arguments for Izzy staying or going make sense, but the big key is if Perez actually pitches in the majors and how he does. I don't know that, if the Cards feel like they can contend next year, they'd want to give the closer job to a rookie. Signing Izzy for another year and letting Perez throw the 8th (if they don't do that most of this year) may make the most sense.
Follow-up question: Agree Izzy is probably the team's most attractive veteran that could be moved at the deadline, and he has been steadfast in his desire not to leave St Louis. Can you envision a scenario where he would change his mind - perhaps like what Jim Edmonds did (although not, probably, tied to playing time as in Jim's case)?
Don: While I understand that Izzy has expressed a desire not to be traded, I think the writing is on the wall. He'll be a free agent at the end of the year, and I seriously doubt the Cards will try to negotiate another contract with Izzy given Perez waiting in the wings. That being the case, Izzy is leaving at the end of the year anyway (assuming he doesn't retire). So I doubt he'd be opposed to going to a contender for a couple of months at the end of the season. I can understand why he objected to a trade with a full year remaining on his contract, but that's not the case in '08.
Bryan: I think the Cardinals could try to bring Izzy back, as I'm not sure that Chris Perez will be outright handed a job next year. Even if Izzy left, I could see them bringing in a "transition" closer to help ease Perez into the spot. Tony will be back next year, remember, and he has a good relationship with Isringhausen. Izzy will be turning 36 in September and has had problems physically in the past years, so it's hard to tell what he's thinking in terms of how long he's going to play. While I'm a huge fan of Perez, I could honestly see Izzy and Perez being in the same bullpen next year. I could be wrong, but I think Izzy would jump at the opportunity to mentor his eventual successor.
Me: Assuming the club doesn't move Izzy at the trade deadline, I think re-signing him will really depend on when Chris Perez is brought up from Memphis. If he's a September call-up, then perhaps they'll try and sign Izzy to a 1-yr deal. If he's up before the All-Star break, and performs well in the seventh and/or eighth, then Izzy's more expendable.
Bryan: I agree. It depends on how the bullpen formulates during the course of the season, which is almost impossible to predict right now.
Consensus: None. Most thought Izzy would be the best trade chip assuming (a) Perez matures as expected and (b) Izzy waives his no-trade clause. Other possibilities included Franklin, Johnson, and Springer.
Question #2: Tony LaRussa is signed on through 2009. Is 2009 his last year as a manager? What style of manager (or who, if you have someone in mind) do you think the Cardinals will pursue as his replacement?
Bryan: Tony La Russa will be done after his contract runs out. There's too many opportunities outside of baseball that I think he'll want to pursue. That said, I think it would be beneficial to the club too to have a new manager. La Russa's antics for getting veterans in the lineup at whatever cost have gotten old, and I think the club will be heading in a totally different direction by then. Jose Oquendo is a frontrunner to succeed Tony, and I think he has some of the qualities that we need in a manager - a good relationship with the players, knowledge of international players, and a willingness to play the best player, regardless of age or contract status. The new manager must be able to see the value in developing young talent. It is a must. I've noticed that the Cardinals are preferring to stay in-house when filling positions lately, which could affect who our next manager is.
haedar: I think 2009 will be tony's last season as a manager of any team in the mlb; especially if he doesn't make the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 because he is all about winning and making the playoffs. he is a "win now" guy and I don't think he has the patience to see the youth get established and play like polished big leaguers nor does he want to which is proven by all the moves that they have made to block some young and potentially good players (miles/izturis vs. ryan, gonzalez vs. schumaker/barton, etc.).
Daniel: I don't see how TLR stays after '09. He really had to debate coming back this time, it sounded like, and I think he'll be ready to move on after it. I'm not huge on having Oquendo follow him--I think a lot of the Oquendo love is from his Cardinal background, not necessarily his managerial chops--but I don't know who else it'd be. I do think it'd be a young gun, not a retread in the LaRussa/Baker/Leyland mold.
Don: I do think '09 becomes LaRussa's last year, but I really think it's his decision. It seems DeWitt is very loyal to Tony. So if Tony is still energized and the Cards are seemingly close to another post-season run, I can see him staying beyond '09. As far as potential replacements for Tony? The obvious candidates, in my mind, are Oquendo and minor-league manager Ron "Pop" Warner (Springfield AA). But the name that really intrigues me is Mike Matheny. He'd need some time as a bench coach, but I think he's a future managerial star.
Consensus: 4 out of 5 Bloggers surveyed (including me) think LaRussa is done after 2009. Who the new manager will be is a lot harder to predict, but the belief in this forum is that whoever it is will have to be able/willing to coach young players and let them develop, vice plugging in the grizzled veteran and/or having a preference for the veterans which seems to be how the team is run now.
Question #3: Jeff Gordon had a nice summary yesterday on stltoday.com of the Memphis Redbirds roster for 2008. We've discussed Rasmus and Mather; who else has potential to be on the big club before September 1st?
haedar: you got jarrett hoffpaur, mark worrell, chris perez (if he doesn't make the team), and a couple of guys that have left huge impressions on dunc and tony (mclellan and parisi). maybe even the legendary Marti if he continues to hit. also, maybe brain barden if they need another infielder. ron flores for lefty relief and josh phelps if pujols goes down (god forbid).
Dan: Perez, if he's sent down at all. Hoffpauir I think will be up at some time this year, especially if there's a chance to move him over to SS. (Not sure if he's got any experience there.) Mather should be up as well.
Don: Chris Perez is an obvious candidate. I also think you could see Mike Parisi and/or Kyle McClellan. Don't sleep on Marti for a spot start here and there in case of short-term injury.
Bryan: I think Jose Martinez has an outside shot of getting the call to the big leagues at some point this season, especially if Izturis really does turn out to be a complete dud. He's starting to get more attention with the upper management, which is always a good sign. I agree with Don with the bullpen talent available, and I would add Jason Motte to that list. Joe Mather will be the first outfielder called up after a trade or injury. That is, unless Juan Gonzalez decides to continue shaking off the rust in Memphis.
Consensus: Chris Perez will be promoted from Memphis prior to the trade deadline. Lots of other candidates are available, but their ascension really depends on who gets hurt or bombs during the first month or two.
My thanks to all the contributors to today's discussion. See you again tomorrow.
55 minutes ago