Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baseball's Worst Uniforms

10) Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates wore some flashy uniforms in the 70s, with 6 different combinations of gold, black, white, and a couple of pinstriped ones. These uniforms remind me of my little league uniforms and look similar to the Steelers as well.During the 1979 We Are Family Pirates team Willie Stargell would award stars for good plays for his teammates to put on their hat. Maybe these uniforms were good for the Bucs, 1979 is the last time they won the World Series.

Click to go back

9) San Diego Padres
The Padres wore these for two seasons during the early 70s. Dave Winfield debuted in these mustard uniforms in 1973. I like some of San Diego's later ones, like the one they had when Ozzie Smith was a rookie, but these uniforms are terrible.

Click to go back

8) San Francisco Giants
The Giants wore these for about 5 to 6 seasons in the late 70s and early 80s. Willie McCovey hit his 500th home run wearing this.

7)Seattle Mariners
These were the Mariners original uniforms from 1977.

6) Chicago White Sox
The White Sox introduced these uniforms in 1982 and wore them through much of the 80s. The Sox have had numerous uniforms through the years, including shorts breifly in the 70s, but these are the worse. Tony La Russa went to his first postseason in 1983 wearing this, and Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Guillen, and Steve Carlton wore this at some point during their careers.

5) Anaheim Angels
These were the Angels uniforms when Disney owned the team. Plenty of Cardinal players of the past have worn this uniform including Jim Edmonds, Chuck Finley, David Eckstein, Adam Kennedy, Troy Percival among others. They changed back to a more traditional look in 2002 and won their first World Series that year.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks have had alot of uniform combinations during their 14 year history, this one being the worst by far. The black one was pretty ugly as well.

3) Cleveland Indians
The Indians wore these in the mid-70s when Frank Robinson was player/manager. This pitcher has a pained face, it must be from having to wear an all bright orange uniform.

2)Tampa Bay Devil Rays
These were Tampa Bay's original uniforms when they came into the league and were known as the Devil Rays. These look like minor league uniforms instead of big league ones. The multi colored "Devil Ray" part is the worst. Wade Boggs is seen celebrating his 3000th hit in this uniform and that was probably the most significant thing that happened for this franchise while sporting these unis.

1) Houston Astros
The Astros uniforms of the late 70s and early 80s might be the worst ones ever. The Astros had some good teams during this time and had some pretty good pitching as well. JR Richard is in the above photo and would of been a Hall of Famer if not for a career ending stroke in 1980. Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Joe Niekro, and Don Sutton sported the rainbow unis at various points. The Astros used this for home and road games, so Astros players had to wear these for all 162 games.

The Miami Marlins new uniforms are pretty bad as well, and I almost put them on this list.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beltran a Cardinal

The Cardinals have signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a 2 year 26 million dollar deal today. Beltran debuted with the Royals in 1998 and has also played for the Astros, Mets, and Giants. Its a familiar name for Cardinals fans since he's punished Cardinal pitching in the past and his teams had met us twice in the postseason. I'll never forget Adam Wainwright striking out Beltran with his curveball to win the 2006 NLCS against the Mets, but I also remember Beltran feasting on Cardinal pitching earlier in that series and in 2004 when he was an Astro.

Beltran has had a really good career so far and will be 35 next April. He has 302 homers and 293 steals for his career and is closing in on becoming only the 7th player to join the 300/300 club. The others are Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Sanders, and Steve Finley. Beltran won the 1999 Rookie of the Year, has won 3 Gold Gloves, and has been named to 6 All Star teams. Beltran had a resurgent year last season after 2 injury plagued years. He's no longer a Gold Glove caliber center fielder, nor is he threat he once was on the basepaths. However he did have a .300 average, .525 slugging, 22 home runs, and 84 RBIs in 142 games last year. Beltran also was 7th in the NL in OBP with .385 and 2nd in doubles with 39.

Beltran will help replace the lost production from Albert Pujols leaving and can play any outfield position. Beltran has also hit into 99 less double plays during his career than Pujols despite playing longer, so thats a plus for a team who broke a National League record for GIDP last year. Beltran played in 142 games last year and should see about the same this season. Allen Craig will be out until around May, and after that there will probably be a three way rotation in center and right field between Beltran, Craig, and Jon Jay. Craig can also play third, second, and first; when healthy manager Mike Matheny should find a spot for his bat in the lineup. Less mobile Lance Berkman is moving to first base from right field, and that improves the defense from last year. The Cardinals now will also feature three switch hitters in the lineup next year with Furcal, Berkman, and Beltran.

2012 Projected Lineup
Furcal, SS
Jay, CF
Holliday, LF
Beltran, RF
Berkman, 1B
Freese, 3B
Molina, C
Greene/Descalso, 2B

Allen Craig is probably the best utility player in the league, and there's still Skip Schumaker on the bench. With David Freese and Rafeal Furcal's injury history that's a good thing. Judging by his performance late in the season and in the postseason Freese has All Star potential, but needs to stay healthy next year.  Yadier Molina is the 7th hitter and he had his best overall season last year. Tyler Greene is finally going to get a shot to play, and we will finally have a stolen base threat. Its possible Furcal, Jay, Craig, Descalso, Adron Chambers(off the bench), and even Beltran could steal bases next year. I think Mozeliak wants to get faster on the bases and more efficient on defense, and next years club will be better at both than it was on opening day last year. Pujols was a iconic figure for the franchise and a elite hitter, but this team is still good enough to win without him. There were parts of Pujols game like his lack of hustle on the basepaths, showboating after home runs, ignoring stop signs, and calling hit and runs that won't be missed. Remember the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011 without injured ace Adam Wainwright throwing a pitch.

Carlos Beltran's career stats

Monday, December 19, 2011

Don't Count the Rangers Out

The American League West looks to have two pretty good teams next year. Most of the offseason talk has been about the Los Angeles Angels and the Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson signings. The Halos look to have a much improved team, but I wouldn't count out the Texas Rangers. Besides Wilson, this is the same team who has went to the last two World Series. With the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners in sorry shape, these two teams look like 90 win plus teams.

Even with Pujols the Angels offense is still not as good as the Rangers. The Angels did not have a .300 hitter last year and Howie Kendrick was the only player with a OPS better than .800. The Rangers had 3 regulars with a .300 plus average, 6 with a OPS higher than .800, 5 with 25 or more home runs, 2 100 RBI hitters, and two players with more than 30 steals. Rookie 1B Mark Trumbo led the Angels with 29 homers and 87 RBIs but also had a subpar .291 OBP and will move to 3B or DH next year. Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu had down years, and Vernon Wells had a terrible season last year. Here's a lineup comparison below:

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Josh Hamilton, CF
Michael Young, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Nelson Cruz, RF
Mike Napoli, C
Mitch Moreland, 1B
David Murphy/Endy Chavez, LF

Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Torii Hunter, RF
Bobby Abreu, DH
Mark Trumbo, 3B(could be Alberto Callaspo)
Peter Bourjos/Mike Trout, CF
Vernon Wells, LF
Chris Ianetta, C

Pujols doesn't have nearly as much protection in the Angels lineup as he did last year in St. Louis. Last season the Angels scored 667 runs compared to the Rangers scoring 855. Pujols will help narrow the gap, but the Rangers still have as superior offense. The Rangers also have a top notch defense, especially with infielders Beltre, Andrus, and Kinsler. The Angels defense has some bright spots, including Gold Glove SS Aybar, Hunter, and Bourjos. Trumbo might be a liability at third, but overall its a good defense.

The Angels do have a awesome rotation that includes Jered Weaver, Danny Haren, Wilson, and Ervin Santana. This ranks with the best rotations in baseball. Their bullpen is kinda shaky with closer Jordan Walden blowing 10 saves last year. Lefty Scott Downs did have a 1.34 ERA last year and is a solid option as a reliever. Walden was a rookie last year and made the All Star team, but needs to do better. However, the Angels rotation is the biggest strength of their club and should keep them in alot of games.

The Rangers starters aren't as impressive, especially without CJ Wilson, but were good enough to make two straight World Series with. Derek Holland looked impressive during the World Series, and Colby Lewis has been clutch in the last two postseasons. Matt Harrison had a good regular season, but was shaky last postseason. Alexi Ogando made the All Star team as a starter, although he was moved to the bullpen for the playoffs. He pitched well until he ran into Allen Craig and the Cardinals in the World Series. Hard throwing closer Neftali Feliz is moving into the rotation next year, and the Rangers hope he can forget about blowing Game 6 and rebound as a starter. Joe Nathan was signed to be the Rangers closer, with Mike Adams, Scott Feldman, and Darren Oliver returning to form a solid bullpen. Its also possible the Rangers add a veteran starter like Roy Oswalt or make a trade for one.

The Rangers/Angels rivalry looks to heat up in the next few years, especially with Wilson defecting to the Halos. The Athletics and Mariners are still weak clubs, and the Astros are moving here in 2013 so these two clubs look to be the class of the division for awhile. Both teams have strong farm systems and money to spend, especially Los Angeles. However, I was impressed by the Rangers play this postseason and they were a worthy adversary to the Cardinals this past World Series. As a Cardinals fan I will be rooting for the Rangers to win the AL West next season because of that and because Pujols chose to take the Angels money instead of staying loyal to the defending World Champion Cardinals.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can Holliday be the Main Guy?

Matt Holliday - Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Five

Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday had a up and down year last season. This is a guy who hit .324 in the first half and .263 in the second half, while hitting .435 in the NLCS and .158 during the World Series. He had all sorts of injuries to his middle finger, pinkie finger, back, knee, and quad. Holliday also had a appendectomy, food poisoning, and a moth fly into his ear during a game this season. He played in 124 games last year only starting 119 of them(5 as a DH) batting .296 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs, a down year for him. However his on base pct. was .388 and slugging pct. was .525, both very close to career totals.

Needless to say, Holliday had some bad luck last year. Holliday's career batting average is .315 and he is usually good for 25-30 homers, 100 RBIs, and a bunch of doubles. Last season was the most injury plagued year Holliday has had, so the Cardinals hope he can stay healthy next year. They'll need him too with the loss of 3 time MVP Albert Pujols. Holliday is going to have to be the face of the franchise now, and he will take over the 3rd spot in the lineup. Lance Berkman will be his protection in the cleanup spot, and he's coming off a pretty good year. The Redbirds are also banking on postseason heroes David Freese and Allen Craig to carry over their postseason success next season. Injuries seem to be the only thing stopping them, and Craig will likely be out until May due to recent knee surgery.

Holliday has carried teams in the past, with the best example being the 2007 Colorado Rockies. He nearly won the MVP that season, leading the league with a .340 average, 137 RBIS, 386 total bases, 216 hits, and 50 doubles. Holliday also scored 120 runs, hit a career high 36 home runs, while compiling a .405 OBP and a .607 SLG pct. While he did play his home games at Coors Field that year, he has hit well away from it since. He batted over .310 and drove in over 100 runs in 2009 and 2010. Holliday was on fire in 2009 after being traded to St. Louis, batting .353 in 63 games. Holliday is also a five time All Star and stole over 10 bases from 2005-09.

Holliday doesn't have to put up Pujols type numbers next season, but he does need to have a normal Holliday year. He is the Cardinals highest paid player at $17 million a year, and has the Cardinals record for a contract. His defense is sometimes shaky, and there are moments were he doesn't seem to have his head in the game. He'll need to improve on that. One thing he does have over Pujols is that he hustles more and runs out ground balls. That one trait about Pujols I won't miss.

Its hard to forget about some of the bad moments with Holliday last season, but he was pretty good in the first half and has a track record of success in the past. With the Rockies, Holliday will always be remembered for the game winning slide and run in the 2007 wild card tiebreaker and as the best player on that run for Colorado. In the spotlight here in St. Louis it hasn't been as good. There was the critical error in Game 2 of the 2009 Division Series that cost the Cardinals the game. A similar thing happened to Holliday in the 2010 All Star Game with Adam Wainwright of all people pitching. Its hard to forget about Holliday's last play of the World Series, getting picked off of third base and coming out of the game with a pinkie injury that would keep him out of Game 7. While he had a subpar World Series, he tore up Milwaukee pitching in the NLCS. I would still say Holliday is one of the best left fielders in baseball even if he's slightly overpaid. Its much better than having Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, or Jason Bay, who have all been much worse for just as much money. The pressure will be on Holliday next season, though.

Holliday's career stats

Cardinals News and Notes: The Cardinals have re-signed Skip Schumaker to a 2 year/3 million dollar deal and non-tendered Ryan Theriot, making him a free agent. Schumaker will serve as a 4th outfielder, occasional second baseman, and pinch hitter next season. Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso look to get most of the playing time at second now that Nick Punto signed with the Red Sox.

Bernie Miklasz from the Post Dispatch made a good point about Yadier Molina recently. He's on the last season of his deal in 2012 and the Cardinals need to work on an extension. He'll be 30 next year, so 4 years sounds about right. I don't know how Molina feels about his close friend Pujols signing with the Angels, but thats why the Cards should work to re-sign him before Pujols can recruit him to the Angels.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cards Farm System Loaded with Talent

Cardinals top pitching prospect Shelby Miller

In recent years the Cardinals have improved their minor league system. Its been one of John Mozeliak's priorities, and he has pushed for younger players to get a shot with the big club. In recent years, the Cards have brought up some good players, and there is more on the way. Farm director John Vuch and outgoing scouting/player development director Jeff Luhnow(who's now the Astros GM) have also helped turn around the farm system. The Cardinals have always had good player development coaches, and now their farm system is productive again after being barren 5-6 years ago. Noted minor league analyst John Sickels recently described the Redbirds minor leagues system as very strong. Here's a list of some of the Redbirds top prospects.

Tony Cruz is the Redbirds most polished catching prospect, and spent some time in the big leagues last season. He could be the backup catcher next season, and caught 44% of runners trying to steal in the minors. Bryan Anderson was once the top catching prospect, but has spent the last three seasons in Triple A Memphis.

First Baseman
Matt Adams has been a big time hitter in the minors since getting drafted in 2009. The 23 year old left handed hitter hit .300 with 32 homers and 101 RBIs last season in Double A Springfield. Their home ballpark is regarded as a bandbox, but Adams has hit on every level so far. He will start at Triple A, and could make the big club at some point during 2012. Mark Hamilton is also in the minors, but he's already 27 and probably not the impact hitter Adams will be.

Second Baseman
Second base has been a weak spot for this organization for awhile. But in 2011, the Cards drafted Hawaiin born Kolten Wong with their first pick. He bats left handed and throw right handed, and hit .335 with Low A Quad Cities and helped lead them to the league title. Wong hits for average, gets on base, plays good defense, has good baserunning ablility, and might hit for power when he gets older. Just turned 21, he should start of in High A or Double A next season.

Shortstop has also been a revolving door lately with the Cardinals. They re-signed Rafeal Furcal, but will soon need to come up with a long term option. Longtime prospect Tyler Greene will finally get a shot to play in the big leagues next year, maybe at second base. 2007 first round pick Pete Kozma has the best infield arm in the system, but is a weak hitter. Ryan Jackson has emerged as the top SS prospect, and was rated as the best defensive infielder in the system. He had his best offensive season last year in Double A, and could start in Triple A next year.

Third Baseman
2010 first round pick Zack Cox is the top 3B prospect, and has hit for a high average in the minors. There has been talk of moving him to second or a corner outfield spot. More athletic than Brett Wallace, but has hit for less power in the minors than he did. Matt Carpenter is more major league ready, but he will be 26 next season and World Series MVP David Freese is blocking him from the majors. Carpenter is a candidate to be traded, due to depth at the position.

Oscar Taveras is the highest ranked non pitching prospect in the Cards system. The 19 year old left hander hit .386 in Quad Cities last year. Scouts are unsure how much power he will hit for, but he is rated the best average hitter in the system. He is likely a few years away though. Adron Chambers came up in September, and even made the postseason roster last year. He is fast, and is competing with Rule V pick Erik Komatsu for a backup outfield spot on the Cardinals next year. The Cardinals drafted two fast, athletic, toolsy center fielders out of high school last year. They drafted Charlie Tilson in the second round, and CJ McElroy(son of former reliever Chuck McElroy) in the third round. Hopefully, one of these guys can develop into a Michael Bourn or Kenny Lofton type player 4 or 5 years down the road.

Starting Pitchers
You have to be excited about the Cards pitching prospects. 2009 first rounder Shelby Miller is the most polished of these picks, and has a excellent curveball, changeup, and fastball. He was excellent last season, pitching well in the offensive heavy Texas League. He was briefly suspended for an alcohol related incident, but that kind of stuff is easy to happen to someone in their early 20s. He's one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and is projected as a future ace. Miller could make the big club as early as next year. Carlos Martinez has an even better curveball, and a good fastball as well. His command needs work though, and is probably 2-3 seasons away from the big leagues. He struck out 176 hitters in 143 innings so far, but needs to cut down on walks. Right hander Tyrell Jenkins was a compensation pick in 2010, and is yet another potential ace. However, he pitched in rookie ball last year and will likely start 2012 in Low A. The Cardinals are also high on Trevor Rosenthal, who pitched in Low A. He may not have ace potential like the other 3 pitchers, but could be a solid starter someday.

Technically still a rookie, Lance Lynn could start but was a key reliever down the stretch last year. Brandon Dickson was up for a couple games last year, but his future may be as a reliever. Onetime prospect Adam Ottavino is coming off Tommy John surgery. It looks like the Cards have 3 pitchers with ace potential, and a couple who could be solid starters someday. With Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright already good to great major league pitchers, the Cards should be set for years to come.

Relief Pitchers
Eduardo Sanchez pitched pretty good in the big leagues before he was hurt last year. He has filthy stuff, and should be a key reliever next season. Adam Reifer was the closer for Double A Springfield last year, and was promoted to Triple A late last year. He could be the first reliever called up next season if someone gets hurt. Acquired in the Brendan Ryan trade, Maikel Cleto posseses a high 90s fastball, but is very wild. He will need to work on his command and cut down on walks if he is going to have any success at the big league level. Jordan Swagerty is the highest rated relief prospect after Sanchez, jumped three levels last year. He will likely start in Double A next year.

Matt Adams stats

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Furcal Gets a Two Year Deal

I will say trading for Rafeal Furcal was a key move in the Cardinals postseason run this past year. He was a big improvement defensively over Ryan Theriot, and did get some key hits in September. He was a All Star in 2010, although he was hurt much of the second half. Since 2008, Furcal has played in 36, 150, 97, and 81 games. That's alot of missed games in the past four years, so Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso will probably need to fill in at some point during the season.

Furcal was signed to a two year, 14 million dollar deal this weekend. There wasn't much left on the free agent market, and 34 year old Jimmy Rollins wanted a five year deal. Furcal is also 34, and is coming off a down year. His average was down to .231 and On base pct. was down to .298 for the season, and isn't as fast on the bases as years past and has lost a step defensively. Furcal's did bat .255 with a .316 OBP in 50 games with the Cardinals this year, but he is not the ideal candidate to bat leadoff anymore. In the postseason he was 15 for 77(.195) with a .235 OBP.

If Furcal can rebound and stay healthy, it will be a good deal. Its possible last season was an off year due to injury, but its also possible Furcal is on the decline. Its not a huge deal, so if he does flop it won't be to big of a hit to the Cardinals financially. Besides Greene and Descalso, the Cardinals also have good glove weak hitting Pete Kozma in Triple A. Top SS Ryan Jackson spent last season in Double A and is probably a year or two away from the big leagues. Furcal is a stop gap until a long term option is ready or steps up, and hopefully the Redbirds can get a good to decent year from him next season.

Rafeal Furcal's career stats

Its not certain who will be Furcal's double play partner next season. Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot are both arbitration elgible, and its unlikely both will be retained. Schumaker's ability to play all outfield positions makes him the more likely candidate to stay as a utility guy. The Shredder and defensive specialist Nick Punto is a free agent. Greene and Descalso will be in the mix for the second base job as well, as both will spot Furcal from time to time. Allen Craig played some second last year, but is likely to be in right field next year when he gets healthy. There isn't much on the free agent market for second baseman, but a trade could be possible.

Tyler Greene led the team in stolen bases last season with 11 despite being in Triple A most of the year. He's put up solid numbers in Triple A batting .323 last season. He's solid defensively, and is quick, stealing over 30 bases twice in the minors. However, he's been in Memphis for parts of four seasons and turned 28 this past August. He hasn't found much success in the big leagues, but did play well in September when given the chance. Its time to see what Greene can do in the big leagues next year, or its time to trade him.

Unless Furcal can improve his On base pct., he shouldn't bat leadoff next season. Its possible that Jon Jay could be given a chance to leadoff. Its also possible John Mozeliak is looking to acquire a leadoff hitter. I'm also not sure what kind of manager Mike Matheny will be like, is he going to want a set lineup or mix and match like Tony LaRussa? I'm thinking he will have more of a set lineup when he can. I'm also unsure if Matheny will want to take more chances on than TLR did, partly to manufacture runs since Pujols is gone. Matheny will have some candidates to do it with Greene, Adron Chambers, Rule V draft pick Erik Komatsu, and possibly Furcal. Jay and Craig could and are fast enough to steal more bases if needed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cardinals Should Look to Improve Rest of Team

The Cardinals have lost out on Albert Pujols and its a bigtime loss. However, the Redbirds still have plenty of good players on their roster and Pujols wasn't the only guy responsible for winning the World Series last year. They did it without Adam Wainwright who didn't throw a pitch last season and will be returning from Tommy John surgery in 2012. After letting it settle in Pujols is gone, its time to use some of the money allocated to him to improve the team. It looks like John Mozeliak might just do that, he talked about signing Carlos Beltran to a one or two year deal. Lance Berkman will be taking over first base, and Allen Craig when he gets healthy can play multiple positions including second, third, first, and all outfield spots. First base prospect Matt Adams is probably a year away and had a monster year in Double A last year. Mozeliak has also discussed signing lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez to take Arthur Rhodes spot.

The Cardinals middle infield was a weak spot last year. They started with Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot, one of the worst double play combos imaginable. Nick Punto and Daniel Descalso was also part of the mix, and Tyler Greene and even Allen Craig got some time at second. Theriot's lack of range and fielding misplays really hurt the club in the first half of the season, and its time to get a natural second baseman instead of Schumaker, a converted outfielder. Rafeal Furcal was acquired in a midseason trade, and did stablize short, but he's a free agent with a injury history who wants a multi-year deal.

I doubt Furcal comes back now, and I think the Cards should part ways with either Theriot or the Schu-man. I would consider re-signing Punto as a utility infielder if the price is right. I would want Descalso and Greene to get the most playing time at second and short if a veteran cannot be acquired. The free agent market is bare now for middle infielders now that Jose Reyes has signed with Miami and Jimmy Rollins is close to re-signing with Philly. The Brewers signed Alex Gonzalez, and Yuni Betancourt is a free agent but I wouldn't sign him. Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, and Jack Wilson are free agents; but at this point in their careers they are role players and not suited to start.

First off, I think the Cardinals should ask the Marlins if Hanley Ramirez is available. If reports are true he's unhappy about moving to third base, then we should put together a package to try to get him. He's coming off a down year, so I would see if they would take either Jon Jay or Allen Craig and Lance Lynn or Kyle McClellan, or even Kyle Lohse. I wouldn't trade Shelby Miller for him though, he's projected to be a future ace. If that fails, I would see if the Diamondbacks Stephen Drew, the White Sox Alexei Ramirez, or the Nationals Ian Desmond is available.

If they fail to land a shortstop, then I would go for a second baseman. 2011 first round pick Kolten Wong is projected to be the Cards future 2B, but he's a few years away. We need a stopgap for 2-3 years. I've wanted to see the Cardinals get Orlando Hudson for several years. He's got one year left on his deal with the Padres, and I doubt he's part of their long term plans since he's about to turn 34. If the Cards can get O-Dog for a mid level prospect or two they should, he's a four time Gold Glover with a decent bat. The Braves moved Martin Prado from second to left field last year to make room for Dan Uggla, and its rumored they are looking to trade Prado. He was an All Star in 2010 and a career .293 hitter. He would be a good pickup as well.

In the last year or two, Mozeliak's has changed the organzation's drafting approach. He had his amateur scouts look for speed, athleticism, and middle infielders and high end starting pitchers. The farm system has improved in recent years producing Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Dan Descalso, Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan, Fernando Salas, Mitchell Boggs, Tyler Greene, Colby Rasmus, Chris Perez, and Brendan Ryan. Thats a big improvement from being one of the worst systems in baseball during the mid-2000s. The Cardinals have two top pitching prospects in baseball with right handers Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez who should be making their debuts in the next couple years. Miller could possibly come up sometime next year. Oscar Tavares is a high average hitting center field prospect, and 3B Zack Cox, 1B Matt Adams, 2B Kolten Wong are thought of highly by scouts. Adams is probably the closest to the big leagues. Ryan Jackson is the top SS prospect, but opinions are mixed on him. Adron Chambers, Lance Lynn, and Eduardo Sanchez are still rookies and they will get a chance to play next year.

The Cardinals have rebounded from losing alltime greats before. Rogers Hornsby was considered the greatest right handed hitter ever when he played, and was traded after their first title. The Cardinals went on to make the World Series in 1928, 1930, finally winning another one in 1931 with alot of the same cast. They traded Hall of Famers Joe Medwick and Johnny Mize in consecutive years before winning three NL pennants in a row from 1942-44 and another in 46, winning three of those World Series. After Stan Musial retired in 1963, they won the World Series the next year. Lou Brock retired in 1979, and they won the World Series in 1982. We cut ties with two thirds of the MV3 trading both Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen a year after winning in 2006, and you all know what happened this year. The Cardinals will rebound from losing Albert Pujols, bank on it.

Pujols signs with Angels, Cardinals need to regroup

Albert Pujols decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels after they offered more money than the Cardinals did. Once Miami was out of the picture, I figured Pujols would re-sign, but then the Angels came in with a ten year 250 million dollar deal. Its a big loss for the Redbirds, but its a contract the Angels will regret. Just look at the ARod deal the Yankees signed after 2007 when he was 32 like Pujols.

                                                  Pujols career stats

200020STL-minA,A+,AAA133544490741544171996454647.314.378.543.9202661357PEO,POT,MEM · MIDW,CARL,PCL
11 Seasons170574336312129120734551544513298435975704.328.420.6171.037389323277251
162 Game Avg.16270660012319743142126839367.328.420.6171.03737022724


18 Seasons2402106349199182427754952962918933057311661916.302.386.567.953521522215788

As you can see Pujols numbers have been declining for the last couple years. They are still All Star type seasons, but not worth 25 million a year. I still think Pujols will put up a few more big years, but as he gets older he most certainly will decline and recovering from injuries will take longer. Looking into the first four seasons into ARods 10 year 275 million dollar extension with the Yankees, his numbers have went down as he ages.

The Angels signed free agent left hander CJ Wilson as well, and should have a good team next year. But signing big name free agents doesn't always work, look at the 2011 Red Sox. However, they should have a top notch rotation with Jered Weaver, Danny Haren, Wilson, and Ervin Santana. Their lineup is stronger with Pujols, probably still not as good as the Rangers though. Torii Hunter and Howie Kendrick are there most established hitters, and Vernon Wells is on the decline. Rookie first baseman Mark Trumbo will probably move to third base or DH. The Angels do have up and coming outfielders Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout on their team as well. I expect them to make the playoffs, but there is no guarantee they will win a World Series with Pujols in the fold.

As for the Cardinals, Lance Berkman will move to first and Allen Craig will start at right field with Adron Chambers subbing in until he recovers from knee surgery. The Cardinals have discussed signing Carlos Beltran to a one year deal as well. The Cardinals should also look to upgrade their middle infield. Rafeal Furcal is not likely to come back, and there is not much on the free agent market now that Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins have signed new deals. I think Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso will get a shot to play, but the Cards should look to make a trade to stabilize either second or short. Adam Wainwright is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and top prospect Shelby Miller could be ready sometime next year so the pitching should be better. Hopefully, GM John Mozeliak will use the Pujols money to upgrade other spots on the roster.

Pujols could of been a Cardinals icon like Stan Musial, but he chose money over being a lifetime Cardinal. His career route is more like Rogers Hornsby, who was traded after a salary dispute. Hornsby wanted more money after leading the Redbirds to the 1926 World Series championship, and ownership wouldn't budge and traded him to the Giants for fellow Hall of Fame second baseman Frankie Frisch. Hornsby was still really good for another 4-5 years, but he had his best years in St. Louis. It looks like Pujols will be getting a small statue after he retires instead of a big one like Musial. As for Pujols, the pressure is on him next year. If he slumps, Angel fans will be rough on him considering he hasn't done anything for that organization yet. 10 year deals are risky, especially for a player already in his 30s; and I think it will be an albratross for the Angels in 5 or 6 years.