Now that the Super Bowl is over, it’s time to focus on America’s original pastime. As for my quick thoughts on the Super Bowl, I thought the Steelers would pull it out. I thought their experience would win out. Congratulations to the Packers and their fans. As far as the Packers go, I think we can, as Cardinal fans, compare to them in a lot of ways. While we have the Blues and Rams, St. Louis is a baseball town. But it’s really more than that, and like Packers fans, Cardinals fans stretch out over many states. I’m not sure I would ever be as interested in the development of young players, or the equivalent of the Hot Stove league and spring training in another sport. I hope to see the day when the Blues win the Stanley Cup, as hockey is my second favorite sport, but I’m not sure anything will compare to a Cardinals World Series win. I think most of you understand what I’m trying to say here.
As for the commercials during the Super Bowl, my favorite was the Budweiser commercial with Peter Stormare, where they broke out in the song Tiny Dancer at the end. If you recognized Stormare, he was the Russian cosmonaut from the movie Armageddon and also Steve Buscemi’s partner in crime in Fargo that put the Buscemi character in the wood chipper in the end.
So on to spring training and the 2011 season. First of all, I still don’t think Albert Pujols and the Cardinals will agree on a deal. It appears that the Pujols camp wanted 10 years for $300 million last offseason, which ended negotiations at that time. I can’t blame the Cardinals here, as a contract like that would cripple the team for years to come. So like I’ve said, I don’t think the Cardinals and Pujols will get a deal done. Pujols will play for the Cardinals in 2011, and plan B will be enforced for 2012. If the Cardinals let Pujols get to free agency, a couple of things will happen. One, they will know what the market is for Pujols. Number two; the bad blood between Pujols and the Cardinals at that point will lead him to another team, not allowing the Cardinals to match the offer. Some team will overpay for Pujols, and I don’t think the Cardinals will want to match the offer anyway. Hopefully the team he goes to won’t have a draft pick in the top 15.
After looking over some of the depth charts of teams this weekend, I’m not so sure the Yankees make the playoffs in 2011. I think the AL East will belong to the Red Sox, and I’m not so sure the wild card will come from that division. I think it will come from the AL Central. While I still feel the Yankees will be the second best team in the division, they are not going to rack up as many wins over teams like the Orioles and Blue Jays. Most people say the Yankees would not be interested in Pujols because of Mark Teixeira, but if they fail to make the playoffs, they will be looking to make a huge splash, and would do whatever it took to go after Pujols. They will find a way to shuffle things around to make it work out for both Pujols and Teixeira.
Let me make this point clear. I’m in favor of letting Pujols walk if the Cardinals invest the money in other talent at other positions. There’s no doubt in my mind that they will. I say let Pujols walk because it now appears he will veto any trade proposal. So, the Cardinals will receive 2 draft picks for him. Not ideal, but it allows them to push all their chips in for 2011, and make a run at winning it all. If the Cards have a couple of injuries, they can trade for players to fill those gaps, knowing that Pujols contract comes off the books after the year.
On to other topics, I’m generally in favor of giving young players a chance to come up and show if what they’ve done in the minors can relate to big league success. However, with Jim Edmonds coming back, I’m feeling an exception to the rule. My heart may be gaining control over my mind on this one, but if Edmonds can put up the numbers he did last year, it’s not a bad deal. Will Edmonds be a decent bat off the bench and an occasional starter? I guess it will all depend on his health, and I hope so, because the Cards need some left handed thump off the bench.
My biggest concern for the team right now is what they will do if David Freese goes down early. I like the Nick Punto signing, but it would seem impossible for the Cards to compete in the revamped NL Central this year if they are forced to use him every day at 3B. Freese extends the fear the in the lineup, and allows Yadier Molina to hit 7th, which is as high in the order that he should hit.
I figured that P.J. Walters would be a lock for the long man in the bullpen to start the year. Matthew Leach thinks that Miguel Batista is a strong favorite to win that spot, and after thinking it over, I’d have to agree with him. I’m not sure if P.J. will be better utilized by starting in Memphis, but I can see where Tony LaRussa gives the nod to Batista out of spring training because of his experience if it’s close.
I’m curious to see what Ian Snell can do. It was a minor signing and his 2007 stats may have made him a one year wonder, but I wonder if Dave Duncan can remake him if he’s needed. It will be interesting to see how many innings he gets in spring training. Hopefully, the Cardinals end up not needing Snell, and Kyle Lohse bounces back and all the other starters remain healthy.
The other question I have right now is who to pull for when the Brewers, Reds and Cubs face each other. I think I will pull for whoever is playing the Brewers, as I still feel they will be the Cards biggest competition in the end. Maybe the Reds can repeat in 2011, but I really don’t see them as a major threat in the end.