All posts by Jon Doble

Motte avoids arbitration

The Cardinals announced yesterday that they had avoided arbitration with their closer Jason Motte. The deal, a two-year deal buying out his final arbitration year, is worth $12 million plus incentives.

After making just $1.95 million last year, Motte filed for $5.5 million in arbitration while the Cardinals filed at $4.5 million. But everyone knew that while this year would be a relative bargain at either of those prices, next year was going to be a big question mark. If Motte duplicated his 2012 season in 2013, the sky was the limit as far as potential earnings ability next year. So for an extra $500,000 this year, they locked him up at a discount rate for 2014 as well.

Motte, 30, led the National League last year with 42 saves, tied with Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel. Over the last three seasons, Motte has been fantastic out of the bullpen for the Cardinals. He’s made 201 relief appearances with a 2.43 ERA and a 0.988 WHIP. Among the 92 relievers who have thrown over 150 innings over the last two years, Motte’s WHIP is 6th. Continue reading

Long and expensive deal for Wainwright

“It’s going to be long,” he said. “It’s going to be expensive.”

That was a quote from John Mozeliak in regards to an extension for Cardinals’ starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. News about a potential extension for the team’s star pitcher started coming out over the weekend at the annual Winter Warmup festival.

The two sides began preliminary discussions near the end of last season and have continued to have a dialogue during the offseason. Mozeliak has come across positive about the results of the talks, saying that they haven’t had either side drawing a line in the sand. The discussion around it come in stark contrast to the last big renewal the Cardinals had come up for Albert Pujols.

Wainwright even publicly admitted that he decided to wait on closing the deal until the early part of this year, saying that seeing how free agency played out for other guys on the market wasn’t going to hurt his case. It didn’t. Zack Grienke signed a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $26 million per year, further elevating his open market price tag. Continue reading

What Cardinals will play in the WBC?

The World Baseball Classic will once again be played this year with a handful of Cardinals players getting an opportunity to represent their country. The intriguing name, according to reports from December, was supposed to be Jaime Garcia, who intended to pitch for Mexico. However, his name is not on the rosters released today, though that may still change.

The question becomes did Garcia back out on his own accord or at the team’s urging? Or is it his injury continuing to be an issue? The answers really shape what happens in Spring Training. Right now there is only a single pitcher spot on the roster, for a right handed reliever. If Garcia is still down, that opens up a rotation spot for a number of candidates.

Jason Motte turned down an invitation to pitch for the United States because he and his wife are expecting their first child later this month. Mitchell Boggs will be on the only member of the team on the US roster.

Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina will play for Puerto Rico. Fernando Salas will pitch for Mexico. And Richard Castillo, who started in Double-A Springfield last year for the Cardinals, will pitch for Spain.

Why not Punto?

Exactly one month ago today the St. Louis Cardinals traded Skip Schumaker to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for minor league shortstop Jake Lemmerman. It wasn’t a trade of necessity for the Cardinals, but rather a trade of accomodation. Under new manager Mike Matheny, Schumaker saw his playing time and role on the team diminish down the stretch.

Meanwhile, Schumaker was still hitting over .300 for the season entering September and was holding his own in the defensive metrics with Daniel Descalso. He was by far the Cardinals’ best option at second base last year, but he didn’t get regular playing time. He made 8 pinch hitting appearances in the playoffs and got a chance at second base in the playoffs for the 9th.

With the reduced role, Schumaker asked John Mozeliak to explore trades for him, somewhere where he could get a bigger role. New Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire lobbied for Schumaker and the Cardinals and the Dodgers made a trade work.
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What to do about Chris Carpenter?

When I think about the greatest Cardinals’ pitcher of the last decade, my mind immediately goes to Chris Carpenter. I think most Cardinals’ fans’ minds would too. Over the last decade, when number 29 was on the mound you knew he was going to give it everything he had in the tank. If there was just one single ounce of greatness left in him, he was going to find it and use it. It was this same gritty determination that Carpenter used to give the Cardinals their eleventh World Series championship in 2011.

He spent nearly all of the 2012 season paying for it.

A rib later and here was Carpenter, using everything he had to make a miraculous September return. He wasn’t bad either. His record may reflect a 0-2 record with a 3.71 ERA in his three September starts, but he followed it up with a 2.63 ERA in three playoff starts. Unfortunately he was the victim of 6 unearned runs in the NLCS against the Giants that resulted in a 1-2 playoff record for him. Carpenter showed he was close, but he still wasn’t perfect.
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Gloves 4 Troops

I ran across this this morning as I was poking around for Cardinals’ related news. Cardinals’ minor league shortstop Vance Albitz has begun a program to collect gloves and baseballs and send them overseas to troops. He’d read in a news article the response of a soldier who said he’d really like a glove and a baseball to play with and Albitz decided to start this collection drive. According to his site he has sent 212 gloves to soldiers so far. His goal was to send 1,000 gloves before he has to pack up and head to Florida for Spring Training with the Cardinals.

You can donate gloves, baseballs, or even cash (which is just as good as money) to help pay for shipping expenses.

You can check out the website for more information, www.gloves4troops.com. Maybe even donate if you feel like it. I’m wishing I hadn’t trashed my backup glove over the summer. I thought it was a very cool idea. He has some updates and pictures on his Twitter page as well.