Jeff Luhnow named Astros GM

Jeff Luhnow, the Cardinals Vice President of Player Procurement, has accepted a job with the Houston Astros as their new General Manager. Luhnow will take over for Ed Wade, who was fired last month by the Astros’ new owner Jim Crane.

Luhnow, who has essentially controlled the Cardinals’ amateur scouting and drafting departments for the last few years, is responsible for drafting many of the successful Cardinals you see today. The Astros are hoping that he can do the same for them as they seem ready and willing to spend the time to build a solid foundation for future success rather than going out and buying it.

As far as General Manager jobs go, I’d have to say that the Astros one is one of the best. You have ownership who wants to build from within and take the time to do it. Only Wandy Rodriguez is signed beyond the 2012 season, so you have complete roster freedom. You get to take the job and build the team exactly how you want to do it. You don’t have the mistakes of the previous management team hanging over your head like Theo Epstein’s group does in Chicago. The job certainly lacks the cache of the Cubs job, but overall it’s better.

He will also get to lead the team through their transition from the National League to the American League, which will happen at the end of the 2012 season.

For the Cardinals, the loss of Luhnow is a blow to the organization. Hopefully there is someone just as talented to step into his shoes in the St. Louis front office.

Win the a copy of the 2011 World Series film

Thanks to the fine folks at A+E Networks, Major League Baseball Productions, and Foundry Communications, we here at Redbird Dugout are getting an opportunity to hold a contest to get copies of the 2011 World Series film in the hands of more Cardinals fans! I’m always for that!

The Contest

So what do you have to do to win a copy for yourself? It’s simple, write me a story about your favorite St. Louis Cardinals memory by 11:59 pm on December 9th, 2011. It could be anything from taking your Dad to his first World Series game to one of your first Cardinals games as a kid. Anything!

Now you may have some questions. That’s understandable.

How is the winner chosen?

There will be four winners to this contest.

The author of the best Cardinals’ memory, chosen by us, will win a copy of the 2011 World Series film’s Collector’s Edition. This is the set that includes 8 discs and has all the games, the film, and bonus features. It’s really the ultimate compilation for a Cardinals fan. The next time the Cardinals find themselves out of a World Series, instead of watching the real one, you can relive 2011’s amazing series.

The author of the runner-up story as chosen by us, will win a copy of the 2011 World Series DVD. This is the one that comes with 2 discs and includes the World Series film, bonus features, and Game 5 of the NLDS against Philadelphia. This is the one that I reviewed here.

There will also be at least two random winners selected out of those who were not selected to win the grand prize or runner up prize. They will receive the 2011 World Series DVD that I reviewed. To cover my bases, I will video tape me putting names on sheets of paper and do a random drawing out my Cardinals hat to select the winner and post that video to YouTube.

How will I let you know you won?

All decisions made by Redbird Dugout will be final. The winners will be contacted by email on Sunday, December 11th, and announced on the blog on Monday, December 12th.

How will you get your prize?

All the mailings are being done through our screener at Foundry Communications, who is working with A+E Networks and MLB productions. I will basically act as a middle man. I will hand off the addresses to her and she will fulfill the prizes for the contest.

Other important things to know

I have no intention of selling your email address, mailing address, or anything else related to you. Only the addresses of the winners will be forwarded to our screener at Foundry Communications.

I will have the rights to publish your story on Redbird Dugout. The top two winners will have their stories published on Redbird Dugout the week after the contest concludes. I will not publish it anywhere else without further expressed permission.

And finally, by entering this contest you agree not to sue me if I don’t pick you as the winner (or even if you do win). You agree to abide by all decisions made by me and the Redbird Dugout staff. I’m really not worth much anyway. No good assets, no house, no car. Just living the American Dream, student loans up to my eyeballs! I do have a 5 year old iMac though. However, I’d appreciate being able to keep it so that I can keep writing sub-par Cardinals commentary for my one reader (Hi Mom!).

I agree to run this contest as fair as possible.

Contest Entry

Now, if you agree to everything here, I’d love to read your story. Please complete the form below.

Entries Closed


Like Redbird Dugout on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Cubs to pursue Pujols

Despite the rumors otherwise over the last month, FOX Sports is reporting that the Cubs will pursue Albert Pujols after all. During the meetings in Milwaukee before Thanksgiving it seemed like the Cubs were interested in bringing back their existing first baseman, Carlos Pena. That seems to be in doubt with the recent news.

With the announcement of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the way that compensation will be divvied up to teams losing Type A free agents, the big winners are probably Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Previously, if their teams offered them arbitration (which the Cardinals have offered to Albert) and they went to sign with another team, the team that signed them gave up an early round draft pick. Now, the team that is losing the Type A free agents gets a pick sandwiched in before the signing team’s pick. This immediately made Pujols, Fielder, and other Type A free agents much more attractive to teams who are trying to building from within.

Just a few weeks ago I went over each team and what their potential interest in Pujols was likely to be. I still feel that while the Cubs fans would love to steal Pujols away from their arch-rivals, it doesn’t make much sense for the Cubs other than making a big splash. The team’s problems are much deeper than one 32-year-old former best player in baseball can fix. Plus, would Pujols be willing to throw away his 11 years in St. Louis for a payday?

For the Cubs, they have to consider what is actually best for the franchise. What got the previous management team in trouble in Chicago is spending big money on declining players. Albert’s last three years have been a systematic decline, plus I can’t be the only one who realizes that a player’s true prime is ages 29-31, not 32-35 as has been suggested by many in the big media.

The “cheap” option for them is to bring back Carlos Pena. Pena, 33, hit .225/.357/.462 for the Cubs last year with 28 home runs and 80 RBI. He was on a 1 year, $10 million contract trying to regain his value after a rough final year in Tampa. Given his closest free agency comparisons are likely Lance Berkman, who signed a 1 year, $12 million deal with St. Louis with far better numbers, and Adam Dunn, who will make $14 million next year in his second year of a four year deal with the White Sox. Pena is probably in the $11-13 million range to bring him back. That could be half of what it would cost to bring in a guy like Fielder or Pujols.

Pujols, who will turn 32 in February, is coming off of the worst season of his career. He hit .299/.366/.541 last year with 37 home runs and 99 RBI in what could be his final year in St. Louis. The rumored top offer stands with the Cardinals at 9 years, $198 million, which is a $22 million average annual value.

The man I think that makes far more sense to every team out there, except the Cardinals, is Price Fielder. Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 last season with 38 home runs and 120 RBI. Right now he’s put up better numbers that Pujols in their most recent season. He’s also younger and about to hit his prime years. Overall, the money commitment required to land Fielder will be less as he will likely be roughly the same AAV, but fewer years. If I was a team needing a slugging first baseman who had no existing attachment to any of the three, Fielder is my first choice.

There have been conflicting reports over the last week. Some media writers saying teams would prefer to take an overweight player like Fielder rather than an older player like Pujols. However, in his article announcing the Cubs are in on the Pujols negotiations, Ken Rosenthal claims that the Cubs are interested in Pujols because of his conditioning and concerned about Fielder’s. He also mentions their defense.

But let’s be honest here. It’s first base. It’s not a position where defense is considered a premium. No team will give up offense at first base to improve their defense there, well no team that expects to win, that is.

I think you also have to take note of their injury histories. Fielder has not yet missed time due to an injury. Pujols has been plagued by several over the years and has existing nagging injuries that many (including myself) feel have reduced his production as he plays through them.

When I lay everything out, I still think that Albert returns to the Cardinals. I just don’t see how the Cubs even think he makes sense for their organization.

There is only one team that can give Pujols everything he wants. He wants a winning team, and St. Louis is coming off a World Series championship. He wants a long-term contract, and while the latest rumor is that Albert’s contract is for significantly less than 10 years, I don’t see it getting any less than 8. It only makes sense for one team to lock him up into his forties. He wants money, and the Cardinals’ principal owner has said that they will overstep their $110 million payroll budget for this season for Albert.

And last but not least, he wants a legend. He sees all the great Cardinals of the past get received by Cardinals fans and you have to know that he wants that for himself. Spending several years in a Cubs uniform, in light of everything he’s said he’s looking for in a team, will destroy that legend in the eyes of Cardinals fans.

Review: 2011 World Series Film

My wife thought baseball season was over. But I’m sure she appreciates me waiting until she was off at work before I sat down to watch the 2011 World Series film.

There were many of us in the United Cardinals Bloggers who got their chance to review the World Series film, and many of us are getting the opportunity to give some away. I have been offered up to 3 copies to give away in a contest that I’m currently still working on generating. Trying to be original but something that will be fun for Cardinals fans.

I’m a big fan of documentary-style sports films. Any of the NFL Films season in review stuff and the ESPN 30-for-30 films will quickly grab me and suck me in when I see them on TV because they tell a story inside of a sports world. I’m a huge sports fan and I love getting into it and seeing how things developed as a season went on.

The 2011 World Series film didn’t disappoint. Excellent music that set the tone. Excellent camera work that really had some great shots. Excellent voice-over work by Jon Hamm, who I’ll admit I didn’t really see as a quality voice over guy until watching this.

It began by covering the Pujols contract issue, Wainwright’s injury, the early season bullpen and defensive issues before evolving into the comeback story to make the playoffs and then carrying through to become World Series Champions. Personally, I felt like they could have focused more on some turning points during the season, but it was a World Series film, not a season-in-review film.

The interviews with the players who were discussing game situations and what went on behind the scenes that we didn’t pick up on or consider in the moment were great. That’s a really great thing about sports documentaries like this. You get to see inside the brain of the athlete has he reflects on the moment and discusses what went into it.

While yes, I am a Cardinals fan, I have to say my favorite moment was Derek Holland talking about what Ron Washington said to him when he came out to the mound in the 9th inning of Game 4. Turns out, he does a pretty good Ron Washington impersonation.

Overall an excellent choice for fans of documentary-style sports films and specifically Cardinals fans. I know my dad immediately put it on his Christmas list as soon as Allen Craig caught that final out of Game 7.

I received the DVD edition that comes as a 2-disc set (MLB shop link). The first disc has the World Series film and several bonus features with some This Week In Baseball segments, a segment on Tony LaRussa, some post-game interviews, and the St. Louis parade. The second disc features the 1-0 pitchers duel between Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay from Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series.

On December 6th they will be releasing a 1-disc Blu-ray edition (link) with the features that come on the DVD edition.

Thanks again to A+E Home Entertainment, Major League Baseball Productions, and Foundry Communications for letting us bloggers get the opportunity to review it and hold some giveaways. It was never really something I even considered when I decided to get into blogging, but I certainly enjoyed getting the opportunity to do it. And thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals for winning the World Series so there would be a film to review.

Cover:

Contents:

Like Redbird Dugout on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Notebook: November 28, 2011

The second edition of the offseason notebook comes to you with three stories. I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving break. I know mine was quite swamped trying to accomplish things, seeing family, and a couple of my good friends getting married.

Cardinals offer arbitration to Pujols and Jackson

The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that they had offered arbitration to Albert Pujols and Edwin Jackson while declining to offer the same to Rafael Furcal and Arthur Rhodes.

Both Pujols and Jackson are expected to decline arbitration. Pujols is expected to sign an extension with the Cardinals in the coming weeks. Jackson is likely looking for the opportunity to be in someone’s rotation next season after being the second-best Cardinals pitcher down the stretch. The interesting wrinkle is that the Cardinals continue to be linked to rumors of guys like Mark Buehrle and Roy Oswalt who are starting pitchers, despite the fact that the Cardinals have five starting pitchers already signed for next season and the two most likely to be dealt have no-trade clauses.

Declining to offer arbitration to Furcal and Rhodes is interesting, but expected. The Cardinals have been interested in Furcal, but GM John Mozeliak has said that he’s okay letting Tyler Greene get an extended look going into next season. Furcal is also said to be looking for a 2-3 year contract, which he’s unlikely to get from the Cardinals. The longer this goes on, the more I expect that Furcal is not in the Cardinals’ plans or are a part of their Plan B if they do not bring back Albert Pujols.

The fifth Cardinals player eligible for arbitration, Octavio Dotel, won’t be offered arbitration either. However, because Dotel was one of the players changed from a Type A to Type B free agent as a result of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Cardinals will get guaranteed compensation for him if he signs with another team that isn’t dependent on the arbitration offer.

Spring Training Schedule announced

The Cardinals announced their Spring Training schedule on Wednesday now. They will once again be in Jupiter, Florida, sharing the Roger Dean Stadium complex with the Miami Marlins, with whom the Cardinals will debut the Marlins’ new stadium with on April 4th.

The important date is February 18th, 2012, when the Pitchers & Catchers are scheduled to report. Then on February 23rd position players are due to report. Their 30 game schedule will begin on March 5th against the Miami Marlins.

Cardinals increase ticket prices for 2012

Following a winning year, teams increase ticket prices. Following a losing year, teams increase beer prices. Or so the saying goes.

The Cardinals revealed that they have slightly increased ticket prices an average of 3 percent per ticket. At $31.17 per ticket, the Cardinals had the 8th highest average ticket price in the major leagues, according to ticketnews.com.

The Cardinals had an attendance of nearly 3.1 million people this season. With an average price of $31.17 per ticket and an average of a 3% increase, that means an extra 94 cents per ticket. If they match their 2011 attendance figures that works out to be roughly an extra $2.9 million in revenue for the Cardinals. Many fans have expressed a willingness to pay more for a ticket if it meant bringing back Albert Pujols.