Cards Start Prepping The Hot Stove

It was a cold, rainy day in St. Louis yesterday.  Which apparently meant that it was time to start firing up the stove, just to make sure it was going to give out heat this winter.

The first bit of news–and it is hard to call it news, since it was a foregone conclusion–was that Jake Westbrook‘s option had been bought out and that he would be a free agent.  I’m picturing John Mozeliak sitting down with Westbrook on the plane back from Boston, letting him officially know and thanking him for what he’s done in St. Louis over the last three-plus years.

It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, that long since fan favorite Ryan Ludwick was shipped out to San Diego in a three-way deal at the 2010 trade deadline and Westbrook arrived under the Arch.  He had stretches where he was the best pitcher on the staff, but they weren’t necessarily all that long.  The last couple of years he got off on the right foot, only to have hitters catch up to him as the season progressed.

He never complained, though.  He didn’t complain when he was left off the NLCS roster in 2011.  He didn’t complain when he was in limbo due to injuries and the number of arms on the club.  He didn’t complain when he was forced into action this year against the Dodgers after Shelby Miller left after one pitch.  He got shelled but he took it for the team.

For all the good times–people tend to forget he was the winner in Game 6 two years ago–and all the dance moves with Adam Wainwright, we say thanks and well wishes.  He may catch on as a back-of-the-rotation starter with someone, it might be the end of the line.  Whatever the case, I think he’ll always be welcome in the St. Louis area.

Then the rumor starts circulating that the Redbirds have called up their biggest rival and talked to them about Starlin Castro.  I think you take this with bunches of salt, as it seems more likely they put in a call earlier in the season and this is just a mistelling of that, but let’s take it at face value for the moment.  It’s a blog and it’s the offseason, so we can do these kind of things.

The story says that the Cubs wanted either Carlos Martinez, Miller or Tyrell Jenkins and a shortstop.  Quote: “Supposedly, the Cards didn’t exactly hang up the phone, I’m told.”

That’s probably because they were laughing to hard to get to the receiver.  There is little to no way that Mozeliak is trading off a talent like Martinez or Miller to a divisional rival.  As the Cubs continue to acquire talent and get better, that would be a darn good way to get yourself in a huge bit of hot water.  I don’t care how many titles you win in St. Louis, if you were a big reason the Cubs won for the first time since 1908, you probably need to change your address.

The last deal, Jenkins and a shortstop (Pete Kozma?  Greg Garcia?) would seem feasible, at least from the Cardinals’ point of view.  Jenkins may or may not develop–he’s still got a lot of tools, but he’s been working on them for a number of years–and it wouldn’t be as painful to have him do well in Chicago as it would be one of the “sure things” like Martinez and Miller.

That’s all assuming that you could get Castro to fit into the Cardinal Way.  We know that he has some talent, but there are a lot of drawbacks to him both on the field and off.  His maturity and focus have been questions in the past and while perhaps Yadier Molina and others could take him under their wing, you’d have to be pretty sure that was going to happen to take that risk.

Castro is also the second-highest paid Cub, having just signed a seven-year, $60 million contract.  It’s a back-loaded deal so the price would be reasonable for the next couple of years and really, even the back end isn’t too bad, depending on what he’s giving you.  There’s an option for 2020 for $16 million when he’d be 30, so if you think he’s going to develop, it’s not a terrible deal.

He had quite a down year this year (.631 OPS, his lowest in his career by more than 100 points) and could be a bounce back candidate.  Plus even at the worst, he was better than what the Cards got at shortstop this year.  However, you have to figure it if that really was a down year or this is the player you are going to get going forward.  That’s a huge determination.

I don’t think this deal moves any farther than this article, but given the team’s woes at short, St. Louis is going to be connected to just about any possible shortstop.  Should make for an interesting winter!

  • Ben Chambers

    I’ll always remember Jake Westbrook out-dueling Cliff Lee on a cold May night in 2011 in a 2-1 win, when I was able to get to Busch Stadium for the first time in a couple years. I know from this Cardinal fan, I wish him all the best with whatever his next role is and wherever it is.

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