Desperate Considerations: Winter Meetings Day 2
After a boring first day at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, the Cardinals decided to spice up the second day of negotiations by scaring the shit out of everyone.
The centerpiece of their Tour of Terror involved some apparently serious discussions with Marco Scutaro, the replacement-level second baseman who hit the jackpot by earning an NLCS MVP award with the Giants moments before reaching the free agent market.
Scutaro would be a ridiculously dumb addition for multiple reasons:
1. He’s going to be expensive. Scutaro was paid $7M in 2012 while being shuttled between the Rockies and the Giants. Now that he has a shiny trophy sitting on the water reservoir of his favorite toilet, Scutaro is due some sort of pay increase from that astronomical amount.
2. He’s not an improvement over what we already have. Scutaro is basically an analytical mash-up of Skip Schumaker‘s offense and Daniel Descalso‘s defense. Except he will cost at least $6M more per year than both of those players combined. One could make the argument that mashing those players together would free up one roster spot for another bat, but I’m not sure which bat that might be at this point. Besides, replacing Schumaker with Scutaro uglies up the team quite a bit.
3. Scutaro isn’t a one year option. He’s made it clear that he wants multiple years, and late today the Giants made him such an offer (a moronic 3 year/$24M contract). The Cardinals are not hunting for long-term investments at second base for one very good reason:
4. We have Kolten Wong. The young second-baseman continues to impress as he steadily climbs through the organization. He will be our next real second baseman; he is the future there. Why would we ever sink so much money into an aging player who just happened to have the two best months of his career after eleven years of mediocrity?
The pursuit of Scutaro annoys me because it distracts from what is the team’s most obvious need: a shortstop. The 2012 Cardinals made it to within one game of the World Series with Schumaker/Descalso on second base and Pete Kozma/the ghost of Rafael Furcal at shortstop. That is the very definition of a replacement-level middle infield.
I’m perfectly happy with the Cardinals standing pat with Schumaker/Descalso at second because they are clearly working toward an eventual endgame at the position (Wong). However, the club has absolutely no plan in evidence at shortstop for the years to come. In fact, they have no plan for NEXT YEAR except to keep injecting platelets into Furcal’s elbow and crossing their fingers until the ligament finally comes apart on live television.
BACK AND FORTH
So after the Cardinals made a laughable attempt to land Scutaro, they ended up back where they started – looking at shortstops. The team looks like a nervous virgin at Prom, anxiously shuttling around looking for someone to talk to.
Late day rumors involved the Cardinals discussing a trade with the Marlins for their newly-acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar. At this point in his young career, Escobar is now most famous as the dunderhead who wrote “You Are A Faggot” in his eye-black earlier this season, then claimed he didn’t know it was offensive.
I find it hard to believe that the Cardinals would bring this clueless fool into the organization, especially considering his mediocre stats. The kid has the body of an All Star, but nothing in six seasons indicates he will ever realize any of his potential.
I ALMOST FORGOT
Hey, remember when the Cardinals wanted to get a second left-handed reliever? Yeah, me too. So far, the club hasn’t been linked publicly to any relief pitching other than a conversation about Sean Burnett. Given that the club really needs to find this piece, I suspect that John Mozeliak is flying under the radar on this deal.
There was continued grumbling today about the planned involvement of Carlos Beltran and Jaime Garcia at the upcoming World Baseball Classic next March. It’s clear that the team is particularly unhappy with Garcia’s decision (and they were possibly unaware of it up to a certain point).
I obviously don’t blame the Cardinals for being upset. The bigger question: what should be done about it?
I’ll say this much: if I was the general manager and Garcia pulled something like this on me, I’d trade him immediately. Garcia’s contract is very friendly to trade (three years left for $23 million, plus two option years), he’s lefthanded, and flashes occasional brilliance. Someone would take him, and probably pay handsomely, too.
A LATE ADMISSION
At the evening press conference, John Mozeliak sounded a bit disingenuous. Here is what he said, according to B.J. Rains:
We’re not spending as much time as people think in this market. Our focus has been in other areas.
If not the shortstop/relief situations, what has Mozeliak been focusing on? A bi-partisan solution to the upcoming “fiscal cliff”? The new Jos A. Banks catalogue? Scoring tickets to The Book of Mormon at the Fox? Hey John, either you’re lying again, or you totally misunderstand the point of traveling to Nashville this week.
AT THE HALF
So the Winter Meetings are now at the halfway point, and the Cardinals appear to be treading water. The pieces needed to plug the few holes on the team are available, but the Cardinals seem unwilling to give up any of their treasure to get them. At some point a prospect or some money must be spent.
A 2013 season of Kozma, Descalso, and Marc Rzepczynski sounds rough to me.