The keys to the offseason

“I love the smell of free agency in the morning.”

I don’t think anyone has actually said that. Maybe Scott Boras. Or Dan Lozano last November. But as the sun rose today, free agency officially opens and it begins that time of the year that gets referred to as the “Hot Stove League.” It doesn’t seem like anyone actually knows why it’s called the Hot Stove League either.

For the Cardinals there is some turnover in the coaching staff. Dyar Miller is out. Mark McGwire is leaving. Memphis Redbirds’ Pitching Coach Blaise Ilsley and Cardinals’ Assistant Hitting Coach John Mabry are expected to be promoted to fill those roles according to the Post-Dispatch.

Yesterday the Cardinals made the 1 year, $13.3 million qualifying offer to Kyle Lohse. Lohse now has a week to decide whether to accept that or test free agency for a bigger, multiyear deal. It was a move that was required in order for the Cardinals to get a compensatory draft pick for Lohse should he choose to sign elsewhere this offseason. Lance Berkman was not offered one as he would have likely accepted it wholeheartedly.
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Lohse receives qualifying offer

The St. Louis Cardinals made a 1 year, $13.3 million qualifying offer to Kyle Lohse today, the final day to make such an offer. The Cardinals had to make an offer in order to receive a compensatory draft pick if Lohse opts to sign with another team this offseason, which he is expected to do. Either way, Lohse now has until next Friday to accept the offer if he wants to return to the Cardinals for 2013.

The qualifying offer concept is a change under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement which replaces the old Type A/Type B free agent compensation system. Something that I’m sure relieves General Manager John Mozeliak, who told the United Cardinal Bloggers in September about his indecision about offering arbitration to Octavio Dotel last November. He said he got a mystery call from baseball that they were simply going to give them the compensatory pick without the need for arbitration and he said, “Sweet!”

The qualifying offer is determined by the average of the top-125 salaries in baseball from the previous season. That means a $13.3 million average from the 2012 for qualifying offers this offseason.
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Giants knock Cardinals out

It’s been less than a week since the St. Louis Cardinals were removed from the playoffs by the San Francisco Giants winning Games 5, 6, and 7 of the National League Championship Series. What seemed on the morning of October 19th as inevitable, that the Cardinals would be playing for their 12th World Series championship in 2012, failed to come to pass thanks to shaky starting pitching and a slumping offense.

Over the final three games of the NLCS, the Giants outscored the Cardinals 20-1. They did exactly what they’d done just a series earlier to the Cincinnati Reds. In the National League Divisional Series against the Reds, the Reds won the first two games of the best of five series in San Francisco. Over the final 3 games of the series in Cincinnati, the Giants won all three games. They’d survived with their backs against the wall once, they could do it again.

Going into Game 7, the media portrayed the game as two teams who refused to give up. The Cardinals rode a six game winning streak in games where a loss would have eliminated them from the playoffs. The Giants had won five straight, all in 2012. But unlike Game 5 of the NLDS where the Cardinals got down 6-0 to a young and inexperienced Washington Nationals club, the Giants are a veteran team whose key players had been there before. They weren’t likely to collapse like the Nationals did. And they didn’t.
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Garcia likely done for the year

The St. Louis Cardinals announced that they have removed Jaime Garcia from the National League Divisional Series roster for the remainder of the series. In his place, the team will add Shelby Miller. This means that Garcia is ineligible to play in the National League Championship Series, should the team advance past the Washington Nationals.

After Monday evening’s game Garcia received an MRI exam. Tuesday that exam revealed inflammation and a rotator cuff strain in his throwing shoulder. Garcia will receive a second opinion on his shoulder on Thursday. At that point, the team and Garcia will begin a plan to get him back on the field.

Garcia threw two innings in Monday’s Game 2 of the NLDS in St. Louis. He allowed 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks. After his second inning of work, he confessed to manager Mike Matheny and the team’s managers that he had been having issues that he couldn’t pitch through. The team made the move for Lance Lynn to take over in the game, which may have already been the plan.
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Ridiculous playoff game scheduling

The National Football League doesn’t do it. The National Basketball Association doesn’t do it. The National Hockey League doesn’t do it. So why does Major League Baseball continue to do it?

Game 2 of the National League Divisional Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washingon Nationals began at 4:30 pm Eastern time on a Monday. The game was in St. Louis, so that means that the game actually started at 3:30 pm Central time so anyone who wanted to attend the game had to skip work in order to go. And anyone on the west coast, well, why bother with them?

Game 3 will be an even greater travesty. The game will start at 1 pm Eastern time in Washington. It will air on the MLB Network. Even Wednesday’s San Francisco Giants/Cincinnati Reds game will begin at 4 pm Eastern. I’m sure those Giants fans will enjoy that 1 pm Pacific time start.

My issue is that the majority of Cardinals, Nationals, Giants, and Reds fans will be unable to watch the game because of work. Kids will miss being exposed to the game of their local team because of school.  When you look at the playoff schedules for other major sports leagues in America, the MLB remains the only one that schedules games in the afternoon on a weekday during their playoffs. The rest all play their games in the evening, starting in prime time.
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