January 7, 2009

Matthew Leach special guest on UCB Radio Hour tonight

The United Cardinal Bloggers Radio Hour will broadcast its first show of the year tonight at 10:00 p.m. CT.

Link to UCB Radio Hour

Scheduled guests are Dan from C70 at the Bat and Brett from Busch Birds.

Special Guest: Matthew Leach/MLB.com

hosted by chetthejet from 4thebirds...

Additional guests may include Don from The Redbird Blog and Nick from Pitchers Hit Eighth.

Submitted questions posed by various bloggers and listeners especially for Matthew Leach will be presented first; as many as time constraints allow. Thank you for your submissions.

Call-ins will then be taken live.

(Last minute questions for tonight's show can be submitted here in the comments box.)

January 5, 2009

Cards sign LHRP Royce Ring

According to a Derrick Goold "tweet," the Cardinals have signed LHP Royce Ring to a one-year deal.

To my knowledge, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the first major media to break the story.

01/05/2009 - Cardinals sign lefthanded reliever Royce Ring - STLtoday.com: "The Cardinals are expected to announce later today that they've signed lefthanded reliever Royce Ring to a one-year deal."

McClellan's gung-ho is good, but reveals Cards need more roster work

Yet another potential move I'd harped upon may yet get some serious consideration: Kyle McClellan to the starting rotation.

Tony La Russa probably doesn't like this option, and if I were manager, I might not, either. Although I like McClellan for the starter's role, it would most likely benefit this young pitcher to get at least another season or so in the bullpen.

Due to the Cardinals' roster needs, McClellan as 5th starter, perhaps, makes sense, but in the long haul, such a move is rushing things.

McClellan himself tipped his hand a bit recently when he reportedly mentioned he would be ready to have a go at the starter's role. But McClellan is a go-getter, hungry to improve, anxious to make a bigger impact than he already has.

If Mozeliak fails to secure the needed arms for both the pen and the starting rotation, McClellan may be toeing the rubber in the opening frames of games, whether he's ready or not.

But let's not forget how valuable he has made himself in the bullpen. Like most of the available hurlers, movement between the pen and starting rotation creates a hole either way you go. Mozeliak will have to work on curing this ill. The Cardinals can't survive another season with a bandage approach.

This leads us back into a very slow hot stove season, but there is still time to make any decisions on McClellan's role (if there are indeed any to be made). And you can't say the Cards don't have the resources, either.

There's money remaining, and/or that surplus of outfielders. The Cards should be able to fulfill the requirements of acquisition. That is, if anyone wants to play for them.

McClellan does, for now.
And it's not that I have any problem whatsoever with McClellan's desire to advance his skills. Maybe if the reaction to McClellan's offer only required a "I'll keep it in mind," instead of a long "Hmmmmm," followed by lots of deep thinking, we would all feel more comfortable.

The fact that it's oh-nine and we're still going around the room on McClellan's role is an early indication that the pressure is yet on the front office to get their portion of the work accomplished, whether that means a win-now attitude or a down-the-road buildup.
photo by Barbara Moore

NOTE: The United Cardinal Bloggers Radio Hour broadcasts its first show of 2009 on Wednesday, January 7, at 10:00 p.m. CT. chetthejet/4thebirds... will replace Tom/Cardinals GM as host for this show (Tom will take chetthejet's Jan. 21 show-hosting duties). Dan/C70 at the Bat and Brett/Busch Birds are slated as guests on the 7th. Show listeners are encouraged to call-in during the live broadcast with questions or comments.

January 2, 2009

What part of the preference for the west coast didn't the Cards understand?

During a UCB radio broadcast a few weeks ago I had the chance to slip in one tidbit about Brian Fuentes: that he would be heading west.

I would put this claim in the "I told you so" file except that the chances of Fuentes signing on with the Halos was pretty obvious.

Fuentes dangled himself (or his agent did) for the longest period of the hot stove season, tantalizing quite a few teams, but an admitted target of the Cardinals and the Angels. Wow, do agents ever love when someone makes a bold public statement (like La Russa had) about desiring his services more than anyone else. Such loudspeaker announcements have a way of marking up the merchandise.

But La Russa isn't a fault on this one. He did what had to be done--gave GM John Mozeliak an opportunity to find out whether Fuentes had any yearning to play in the Gateway City.

He didn't.

And in the end, Fuentes turned down a better (financial) offer from St. Louis. The contract Fuentes agreed to with the Angels was not the three-year deal he'd sought, either.

Cardinal Nation could understandably be miffed about how Fuentes (his agent, really) played the Cardinals to work the best deal he could get. But Cardinal Nation would be wrong.

You see, Fuentes was honest with the marketplace. And the fact that Mozeliak couldn't comprehend Fuentes' statement that pretty much said he would really, really, really, really prefer to play on the west coast wasn't Fuentes' fault, either.

So there is no knock on St. Louis by Fuentes. Sure, he paid attention to the Cardinals when offers nearing $20 million for a couple years of inning-at-a-time service were brought forth. Who wouldn't? But what part of his preference to play near the Pacific Ocean did the Cardinals not understand?

It was proper baseball business to shop for Fuentes, but in retrospect, maybe not so much to exclusion of other potential closers that were picked off the market one by one.

Now you get to wonder what the next move may--or may not-be. More closer shopping? Next best reliever? Or a shift toward the fifth rotation starter, perhaps?

The patience of Mozeliak has done the Cardinals well in the past. Now, once more, his patience is being looked at more like a lack of action. Yet, that is the fun of the hot stove season, when everyone gets to play GM. I guess it's one of the evils of professional baseball; that we might just have to decent team if there were no moves made at all.

Missing on Fuentes could've been included in yesterday's post, but that was just too much bad news for the start of the new year.

January 1, 2009

Watch for Miles at Wrigley today, just in case he suits up for the Black Hawks

Losing my favorite Cardinal to free agency wasn't exactly how I wanted to ring in the new year.

Instead, the happiest folks in the Midwest have to be the Bleacher Bums on the North Side of Chicago, meaning today, and for the upcoming season.

Aaron Miles is now happily (as he should be) a Baby Bear, and may now hibernate another month or so before gearing up for Spring Training with former teammate, Jimmy Edmonds. For the moment, Miles can rest with the thought of having secured a $4.9 million contract to play for Lou Piniella over two years, over twice as much as the Cards gave him.

And best of all for a player who gave that proverbial 110% (plus loyalty) to whichever team he was playing, Miles may now find it easier to do so, since the Cubs have offered what the Cardinals would not.

Through most of the hot stove season, I've campaigned for Miles to be the Cardinals' everyday second baseman, but not many have seen it that way. It was numbers thing, I guess. But I'm old school, which places much value on "baseball heart," not to mention a degree of talent, and I simply felt that Miles had enough of both. There were good arguments on the subject from a variety of standpoints; it was just that mine favored Miles.

The Cubs seem to feel Miles is worthwhile, too, dumping Mark DeRosa and making it pretty clear who's going to take over at second base.

And here's another thing I thought Miles could do, or at least have a platoon role at: leadoff man.
It would not surprise me if the Cubs utilized that potential as well.

By failing to resign Miles, the Cardinals have now taken a step backward. Not because Miles was the game-breaker of all-time (although I may never forget his walk-off granny last season), but because of how how much depth he gave the team as a super-utility player.

Another need has been created where none had existed previously, making Tony La Russa's job that much harder. Believe me, you may not have always noticed Miles in St. Louis, but game strategy options have been reduced now that he will not be in Cardinal Red.

Once more, the Cubs have taken advantage of an obvious win-win situation. At less than $5 million for two years, Miles can play whatever role Lou desires; Miles is a bargain for ownership and a boon to the team.

I miss Miles as a Cardinal already.

But hey, you know what?

I'm going to tune in to that NHL hockey game from Wrigley Field today, because I wouldn't doubt it if Aaron Miles is suiting up to fill some role for the Black Hawks.

photo by Barbara Moore