Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Good Fit?

According to this article:

At Clearwater, Fla., Placido Polanco isn't happy about being a backup to Chase Utley on the Philadelphia Phillies, and he hopes that he'll be with another team on opening day.

``It's a situation I can't control,'' Polanco said before the team's first full-squad workout. ``I don't like to be in this situation. I hate to be in this situation, but I have to live with it.''

Polanco hit .298 with a career-high 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 126 games, but the Phillies plan to start Utley every day at second base, and use Polanco in a reserve role.

Polanco is scheduled to make $4.5 million this season. (Yes, I feel sorry for his "horrible situation.") Can the Cardinals go out and get him? Only if a few planets align.

It appears to me as if the only way the Cardinals can pick up Polanco is if they think a couple of things will happen. One, Morris will in fact have to be back sooner rather than later. According to early Spring optimism, Morris may in fact be ready earlier than planned. Two, Ankiel will need to be ready to contribute. Personally, I haven't heard anything about Ankiel yet this Spring. And Three, either Anthony Reyes or Adam Wainwright (or both) will need to be available to come up in the event of an injury to the starting staff.

Why those three things?

If Morris and Ankiel can be part of the rotation, the Cardinals can throw them in with Mulder and Carpenter for the front four. The 5th starter could be one of Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan, with the other being traded to the Phillies for Polanco. Both Marquis and Suppan would make salaries in the neighborhood of Polanco, with Suppan's being closest in dollars. (Of course, Suppan is the only guy I trust to be healthy this year, so I'm not sure that he should be the guy traded if this happens.) And teams always need an emergency option, which Reyes and/or Wainwright would have to be available for.

Polanco, if acquired, would be able to start 120 or more games, depending on health and the whims of Tony. He would provide a defensive upgrade at either 2nd or short, and further would be an offensive upgrade over Grudzielanek or Eckstein. Most likely, Polanco would be the usual starter at 2nd, playing at short to give Eckstein time off (or cover in the event of an injury.) Grudzielanek would still get plenty of starts at 2nd base, and could be further used as a utility player.

Think about it - Polanco would essentially replace Abraham Nunez or Wilton Guerrero on the 25 man roster. That, my friends, is a no-brainer. With Polanco obviously available, I suppose we'll learn something about the Cardinals real feelings on the return of Morris and Ankiel.


At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a nice idea, but I can't help but wonder why Polanco took the arbitration money if he wanted to start? I thought the Phillies made it pretty clear they were going to start Utley. I mean, you were posting about it a couple of months ago, how could Placido not know?

Still, I'm a little leery of trading starters. It's something my father told me, that the Cardinals never have enough pitching. Every time we think they do, two guys get hurt, and at least one other guy stinks, so I'm not sure I'd be happy with trading Soup or Jason away.

Besides, do the Phillies even need starters right now?

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Robb said...

In general, I agree with you. Trading starting pitching is almost always a gamble. That's why I don't think you'll see the Cardinals do it unless 3 out of 4 of the group of Ankiel, Morris, Reyes, and Wainwright look good this Spring (or even into the season by a month or two.)

The Phillies rotation currently consists of Jon Leiber, Vincente Padilla, Randy Wolf, Bret Myers, and Corey Lidle. I'm personally not familiar with the Phils farm system, so I don't know how deep they are in regard to injury insurance. They may think they're fine (and they may be.)

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Cardinal John said...

Having been stung by the lack of starting pitching late in the season due to injruies I don't see the trigger being pulled on that deal. But IF that deal was done you would have a really good point, Robb--you would definetly know how they feel about Ankiel and Morris. I personally would rather have such a deep pitching staff. I wish we could have our cake and eat it too

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Dave said...

While Polanco was very high on my wish list this offseason, I think it would be a mistake to make a deal for him now. In addition to the everyone's comments above, Grudz signed here with the expectation of starting, and this deal would essentially put him in Polanco's current role of a backup. I'm not sure that Polanco would be enough of an upgrade over Grudz to justify trading a quality starter.


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