Important Offseason Dates

Here are some important dates to keep in mind this postseason as teams prepare. With Game 7 of the World Series tonight, players will be able to begin filing for free agency as the official start of the Major League Baseball offseason. Here are how the next few months will stack up.

October 29th – Offseason Begins; Free Agency Begins
When the last out of the 2014 World Series is made, players will be eligible to file for free agency in preparation for the off season. The next five days are a “quiet period” where teams have a last chance to negotiate with their players in an exclusive window before the players can begin speaking with all teams.

November 3rd – Qualifying Offers Due
Teams may make qualifying offers to their outgoing free agents. To be eligible for a qualifying offer, you must have played for the same team all season. So any pending free agent traded during the season is ineligible. This season’s qualifying offer is a 1 year deal worth $15.3 million. Teams must make the offer by the deadline in order to receive the compensatory draft pick next summer if that player signs with another team. Most teams won’t make an offer unless they know the player will turn it down in search of a multi-year deal. [click to continue…]

Aldrete headed to Oakland

St. Louis Cardinals’ bench coach Mike Aldrete will be headed to the Oakland Athletics to serve as their new bench coach under his old skipper Bob Melvin. The position opened up when former A’s bench coach Chip Hale took the managerial job for Tony La Russa in Arizona.

This is a move home for Aldrete as he has deep roots in northern California. He graduated from Stanford, played for both the Giants and the A’s during his career, was born there and he currently lives there during the off season.

Aldrete, 53, joined the Cardinals in 2008 as their assistant hitting coach under La Russa. He was promoted after the 2011 season to bench coach, replacing Joe Pettini, when Mike Matheny took over as manager. He has been rumored as a potential managerial or coaching candidate a few times over the last few years. One of the reasons the Cardinals made him a uniformed coach after the 2011 season was in an effort to retain him. [click to continue…]

Oscar Taveras, 1992-2014

A baseball team is a family. We learned this through the reaction in July to the trade of Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. It perhaps hits a team like the Cardinals a little harder than most because of the “build from within” philosophy as these players all developed through the minor leagues together. Now we’re reminded of that again. Except this time he won’t be coming around every so often with the visiting team.

Last night reports began circulating that Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals’ star outfield prospect, had died in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic. He had been there playing in a winter league. The Cardinals confirmed it with a statement later in the night after it had already begun circulating the US media. Now there is a family without a son, another family without a daughter, and another family without its right fielder.

The cause of death was a car accident. Taveras was with his girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, driving his 2014 Chevrolet Camaro around Puerto Plata. Heavy rains are said to have contributed to the accident. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: Justin Masterson

2014 Major League Stats: 5.88 ERA, 28 G, 128.2 IP, 1.63 WHIP
2014 Minor League Stats: 5.40 ERA, 2 G, 11.2 IP, 1.46 WHIP in AAA
2015 Role: Starting Pitcher in the Majors

You can chalk Justin Masterson up on the list of failed John Mozeliak trades. Received in July for outfield prospect James Ramsey, Masterson was just coming off a knee injury and a rough first half in Cleveland. The idea was that the Cardinals had identified a few things that Masterson could fix and that they could turn him into a innings eater for them down the stretch. That idea turned out to be wrong as he started six games for the Cardinals with a 7.90 ERA before being removed from the rotation.

Masterson was just a year removed a 14-10 season where he had a 3.45 ERA and was an American League All Star. From what I understand, he was also the best right handed starting pitcher against right handed batters in baseball in 2013 as well. He will be a free agent this winter and will likely find someone willing to give him an opportunity to regain his All Star form. [click to continue…]

Exit Interview: Pete Kozma

2014 Major League Stats: .304/.385/.435, 0 HR, 0 RBI in 14 G
2014 Minor League Stats: .248/.330/.372, 8 HR, 54 RBI in 117 G in AAA
2015 Role: Bench for St. Louis

It might have sucked a little bit to be Pete Kozma this year. After being the starting shortstop for the Cardinals all last season, Kozma was relegated to Triple-A Memphis after the signing of Jhonny Peralta. It could have been easy to excuse him for to lose motivation, but he seems to have not done that. He put together a solid season in Memphis, his best minor league year since he played in Single-A and was still, according to Baseball Reference, younger than the average Triple-A player.

Even in St. Louis he put together a decent showing in a small sample size. It’s that small sample size that probably helps earn him a bench role next season when he is out of options. He’s shown he can play good defense, if he can hit roughly his minor league line from this season, he’s a very workable player off the bench.