Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Quick Hits

Posting has been limited lately, between a lack of Cardinal news and a lack of free time on my part. But I wanted to at least touch on some various items today. I'm not going to link to the articles I'm basing some of my writings on due to time constraints.

Arbitration Deadline

Today is the day. By midnight, the Cardinals have to make some decisions as to which of their departing free agents they would like to offer arbitration. Which, of course, is going to force some interesting decisions.

For those of you that may not be completely familiar with the arbitration process, it goes a little something like this. The Cardinals have until midnight tonight to offer arbitration to free agents. If they don't offer arbitration, they cannot negotiate contracts with said free agent until May 1st. (Think Andy Benes, circa 1997 deadline.)

If they do offer arbitration, however, a few things happen. One, the player has to accept or decline arbitration by December 19th. If they decline, then the offering team still has until January 8th to try to work out a contract with them. If they accept, then a panel of arbitrators will determine what the player is worth, unless the free agent signs a contract before the arbiters make a salary decisions. Regardless as to if the player accepts or declines, the team offering arbitration will be awarded a draft pick should the free agent sign with another team. Simple, right?

So, as I was saying - the Cardinals have some interesting decisions ahead of them. Should they offer Edgar Renteria arbitration? If they don't, he won't be back next year and the Cardinals won't end up with any compensation for his departure. If they do, he's likely to simply accept the 1 year contract (ala Greg Maddux heading into 2003) and thus get a raise on the $7.55 million he was making in 2004. If Renteria ends up making $9 or $10 million in 2005 rather than taking the back loaded contract the Cardinals are offering, they will have much less "wiggle room" to land that pitching ace they're after.

Basically, there are plenty of negatives for either option, and no matter what they do it will probably end up being questioned. I don't think there is any way they can not offer him arbitration. His desire to help the team will be put to the test once that happens.

Matt Morris is another interesting case. He's interested in signing a 1 year contract so he can "prove himself" after his off year. Coming off of surgery, I don't blame him. But if the Cardinals want to be the team to give him the shot, they will have to offer him arbitration. If he accepts arbitration, his 2005 salary is guaranteed to be no more than 20% less than his 2004 level, or $10 million.

I think the only way this happens, of course, is if Morris agrees to reject arbitration. This is the same thing that Chuck Finley did after the 2002 season.

Do the Cardinals offer Mike Matheny or Steve Kline arbitration? I'm sure they would like to have both back, but not at the salaries they were making last year - let alone at increased rates. It will be interesting to see what is left standing tomorrow morning when the dust clears.

More Free Agent Stuff

Of course, not only do the Cardinals have arbitration options today, but all teams do. From what I've read, the Cubs are trying desperately to lock up both Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Walker today before the deadline. The Nomar deal is rumored to be 1 year for $8 million plus incentives.

Should Nomar sign with the Cubs, the shortstop market is going to be getting a little thinner, as Renteria will have one less potential destination to bargain with. And obviously Todd Walker being taken off the market will take away one more 2nd base target for the Cardinals.

Trade Talks

The tide seems to be shifting from Randy Johnson to the Oakland A's. I've read rumors of Hudson, Zito, and Mulder being traded away, and that the Cardinals have been actively trying to land one of them. Apparently, Hudson is the player the A's would most like to move, as he is only signed for the 2005 season. The Cardinals are using Jason Marquis for trade bait, which makes sense. It's just a matter of which prospects it would take on top of Marquis.

Randy Johnson appears to be so overpriced that it's going to take a miracle for him to pitch for the Redbirds next year. Unless, of course, Johnson's demands get louder and louder. I still think the teams most likely to land Johnson are the Cardinals, Angels, and Yankees.

Simulation Baseball

The Diamond Mind Baseball Organization - aka DMBO - currently has a GM opening. If any of you have ever wanted to join a simulation league, this is a good chance to get involved in one of the better leagues out there. For more information, go to DMBO.net. This will be my 4th season involved with the league, and it has ruined me from ever playing fantasy baseball again.

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