The Ax Falls

Last night was the first big deadline of the post-Thanksgiving baseball landscape, as those players arbitration-eligible had to be tendered a contract by midnight.  There were four such players on the Cardinal roster and Peter Bourjos (obviously, be silly to deal for him and then non-tender), Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay received contract offers.

John Axford was not so lucky.

This wasn’t any sort of surprise or shocking news, even though I posited when St. Louis traded Michael Blazek for him that they were looking to keep him longer than a couple of months.  If it wasn’t for the fact that he was guaranteed a raise from his $5 million salary of this season, they might have kept him around.  As it was, that salary would put him right behind Jason Motte for most expensive relievers, which is not exactly smart payroll management, especially when neither of them will be a closer for the Cardinals next season.

I am a little surprised that there wasn’t more interest in working out a new deal with him.  While it’s possible that could happen, John Mozeliak’s comments (plus the fact that they never even talked to Axford’s camp about such a deal) seem to indicate that, while they appreciate what Axford did, there’s just not a place for him in the 2014 bullpen.  That makes sense as well–if there’s one thing the Cardinals have, it’s arms–but I’m still a little surprised that they didn’t even explore the possibility.

As for Jay, this seems to indicate that the Goat streak will be broken and that next year will see the top Goat take the field in Cardinal red.  Not that they were expected to or should have let Jay walk.  There’s too much value there for him to do that, though if they were really confident about Oscar Taveras taking over center even part-time with Bourjos, non-tendering might have been a consideration.  No, it looks like I just missed it this year–#2 on the list got traded and #1 perhaps lost his starting job.  I’m losing whatever touch I had.

Or maybe not.  Bernie Miklasz kicks around the Jay question and points out something interesting.  Mike Matheny has said center field might be an open competition and not to assume Bourjos will start.  However, it would seem strange to make a deal for Bourjos and not have him start regularly.  It’s possible that Matheny is making sure Bourjos doesn’t get complacent, but it’s also possible that Matheny and Mozeliak aren’t on the same page.  The last time that happened was Mitchell Boggs, who was then traded in part so Matheny would stop using him.  (BTW, Boggs was non-tendered by the Rockies last night as well.)  Could Mo try to deal Jay to make sure Bourjos starts?  Stay tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned, tomorrow night Fox Sports Midwest will have some baseball programming with Cardinals Hot Stove.  It’s on at 7 PM and Mo will be the first guest.  My guess is it won’t exactly break news, but it’ll be good to have something watch.

If you need something to read related to the Redbirds, Derrick Goold had another one of his chats yesterday.  Knowledge was dropped, as always.

Stick around here at The Cardinal Conclave because we have something in the works that should be interesting to all Cardinal fans, especially during the holiday season.  That’s a teaser, my friends!

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