The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have traded third baseman David Freese and relief pitcher Fernando Salas to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.
The immediate effect of the deal is that it opens up third base for Matt Carpenter and, as a result, second base for prospect Kolten Wong. It also shores up their defense in center field with the addition of Bourjos.
Considering that Freese and Salas were widely thought to be non-tender candidates, this trade is believed to be quite the coup for Cardinals’ General Manager John Mozeliak.
David Freese was the hero of the 2011 World Series and a St. Louis native, so his connection to the area made him a hard player to trade. Logically though it made sense. Freese is 30 years old and coming off his worst season in a Cardinals’ uniform and also stands to get a substaintial raise in arbitration. Because of that, the odds of him returning to the Cardinals in 2014 were slim. The question that Mozeliak had to ask himself was whether we’d get the 2012 Freese (.293, 20 HR) or 2013 Freese (.262, 9 HR) going forward. Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon the St. Louis Cardinals put the finishing touches on their 2013 campaign that saw them finish with a 97-65 record, good for best in the National League. For a team that spent most of the first half of the season in that position before floundering through the midsummer, it was a happy ending.
The team, however, will enter postseason play for the tenth time in the last fourteen seasons with about as many questions as answers. Here are three important questions that the team will need to find answers to if the franchise’s 12th World Series title is in the cards.
Who will be the postseason closer?
After the preseason injury to closer Jason Motte who led the league with 42 saves in 2012, the team began looking for a new one this spring. Last year’s setup man Mitchell Boggs was unable to settle into the role which opened up the competition. Then last year’s trade deadline acquisition and seventh inning man, Edward Mujica stepped into the role and made it his own, posting a 1.72 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and 35 saves in 37 chances from when he took over the position until the end of August. He even got an All Star nod of his own for his work.
But some late season struggles that included being shut down for a week in September for elbow fatigue has opened the door to questions about his health and who will close for the team. Mujica struggled to the finish in 2013 with an 11.05 ERA in his 7 1/3 innings of work and the league hitting over .500 against him. Continue reading
The second half of the baseball season is about to begin and the trade deadline is right around the corner. Already newspapers, blogs, message boards, and twitter feeds are rife with trade rumors as everyone has a keen eye on watching how their teams will perform in the second half. So where are the Cardinals and what could they be looking to add to shore up the team as they drive towards another playoff berth?
I think a good way to get an idea of where the team’s weaknesses lay can be found by a quick glance at the team statistics. With 462 runs scored in 93 games, the offense is currently ranked third in the majors and first in the National League. On the opposite side of the ball, the starting rotation finds themselves with a 3.33 ERA which is good for second in baseball behind division rival Pittsburgh. Their bullpen, on the other hand, has a 3.56 ERA and is only good for 16th.
So a quick glance points you towards the bullpen which has rebounded nicely from an atrocious start with thanks to Edward Mujica‘s step into the closer’s role which he has taken and held onto. Trevor Rosenthal settled into the 8th inning and has once again in the discussion for best relief pitcher in baseball. However, the rest of the bullpen has been a big question mark with most of the rebound behind fueled by great performances by rookie pitchers fresh out of Memphis. Continue reading
As my Dad told me last night, “I was expecting a Wild Card Game, not a wild Cards’ game.” Major League Baseball’s first Wild Card Game, certainly lived up to the wild factor. The 94 win Atlanta Braves were facing off against the 88 game St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field on Friday evening with a National League Divisional Series berth on the line.
Facing off for the game was the Braves’ Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57) and the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86).
Medlen was the starter of note, because the Braves had won 23 consecutive games that Medlen had started, dating back to May 29, 2010. The streak was interrupted by Tommy John surgery and he started this season in the bullpen for the Braves.
Lohse was the quieter of the pair, despite being one of the top pitchers in the National League all season. He led the Cardinals’ rotation in ERA this year. A rotation that was the fourth best in baseball. He had also never won a playoff start going into this game, having a career postseason ERA of 5.12 in 31 2/3 innings. Last year during the Cardinals’ playoff run, he allowed 11 runs in 12 2/3 innings.
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have signed Jake Westbrook to a new deal. The deal is essentially a 1 year deal that gives Westbrook $250,000 more than he would have made on his 2013 option and gives both parties a mutual option worth $9.5 million for 2014.
Westbrook, 34, said earlier this month that he intended to exercise his half of his $8.5 million option for 2013 but admitted he wasn’t sure what the team was going to do. He got his answer.
He is certainly pitching worth it right now too. With a 12-9 record and a 3.50 ERA in 24 starts, he is enjoying the second best season of his career by ERA+. His best was 2004 where he got his only career All Star nod and finished at 14-9 with a 3.38 ERA. Continue reading
On a Tuesday afternoon where it seemed the like the St. Louis Cardinals were going to quietly let the deadline pass them by without doing anything to shore up the team, they didn’t. The Cardinals announced that they acquired RHP Edward Mujica for minor league 3B Zack Cox.
My knee-jerk reaction to the trade was “Is that all they could get for Cox?” After all, I saw a Mujica who had a 4.38 ERA in nearly 40 innings this season.
However, when I dug into Mujica’s numbers further, I found a pitcher that has me thinking this could really be the trade that solidifies that bullpen and helps stabilize this team going forward. Something to realize is that the new Marlins Ballpark in Miami is quite the hitter’s park. According to Baseball References’ Park Factor, Marlins Ballpark scores a 106 for hitters and a 107 for pitchers this year. Over 100 favors the hitter. Meanwhile, Mujica will move into a Busch Stadium that has multi-year Park Factors of 99 for hitters and 98 for pitchers. A far more neutral stadium. That should help greatly. Continue reading