Sunday, February 1, 2009

all over the outfield

So I'm sitting here on this very melty first of febrero, sipping my coffee-hot chocolate blend (you should try it--it's really the only way to drink coffee), ignoring the pre-Superbowl festivities, and trying to decide which direction to take the John Mozeliak/shoe shopping story, and it occurred to me that there hasn't been much news regarding Ankiel and Ludwick and their arbitration issues. I sincerely hope that it doesn't come to a hearing for either of them, but in the event that it does, I'm wondering which side we as Cardinals fans should be on. 

Actually, maybe we should take it back even further than that. If the team lets this go to hearings, will the players feel unappreciated? Disrespected? Would that affect their willingness to give a "hometown discount" to the Cards when (especially in the case of Ankiel) and if they become free agents? I know all players spout the "I understand that it's a business..." line when in the middle of negotiations, but nothing is ever that simple. (Which is why the line is usually followed by "but....") 

But if the unfortunate does happen, what's the official stance of Cardinal Nation? 

Maybe as a blogger I should automatically have a strong opinion, but I can't decide. I keep going back and forth between the good of the team (at least financially, seeing as every dollar saved could theoretically go back into the pot and possibly show return in the form of, say, a starting pitcher) and the importance of showing players that they are valued and respected (which could also show return in the form of the previously mentioned "discount" or building general goodwill with the players). 

The other thing on my mind is the Manny Ramirez speculation. If you've been under a rock (or a snow bank), then maybe you missed the news of Albert lobbying for his dominican compatriota and teammate to play in St Louis. You'd think that Moze's unambiguous and definitive "no" would have closed the case and put the issue to bed, but as is so often the case on the internet (and especially with nothing else remarkable to talk about), it didn't. In fact, it's like he never said anything. 

This got me thinking. 

Primero, I love Man-Ram. All other things equal, I would love to have him. I love his bat and I love his energy. (And no, neither of those is a euphemism.) 

Segundo, I do not think it's a good idea for Ramirez to play here (or for that matter, for any NL club, but that's beside the point, I suppose). No matter what kind of bargain he might give the team, he's just not a good enough outfielder for this to make any sense. 

Now I know there's some question that Ludwick or Ankiel will put up the kind of numbers (minus injury time) that they did last year, that Schu will ever figure out left-handed pitchers, that Duncan will be able to play again, or that the minor leaguers will live up to their hype (and yes, that last one may be all me). But with the possibility that they could, how can we seriously consider letting go of two or more (in all likelihood) of these guys in favor of a player who will bring a lot of baggage along with his offense, and would only eat up any money (even with the "discount") that might be used for a more pressing need. (Five O'Clock Blogger said it a lot better.) 

But back to my original point. The latest post over at C70 at the bat made me think. He basically says that if the Cards were to sign Ramirez, it would only further limit their ability to trade from the glut of outfielders on the roster because it would put a big flashing sign on our foreheads, announcing to every other team out there that we're desperate to get rid of overstock. It would effectively drive down the price for guys like Ankiel, and tie our hands as far as bringing up prospects. 

What I was thinking was that if Moze was seriously considering bringing him in (which, again, I protest), he would need to make the trade first, without the big flashing sign. He would need other clubs to believe that there's no way we're making that deal. 

So maybe all the chatter out there in cyberspace has a point. Maybe we shouldn't just take the "no" at face value. Maybe we should wait until all the cards are on the table. Again, I'm not encouraging this deal. I'm just thinking out loud.