January 29, 2018

#Cardinals crickets over Brew Crew moves

First, a friendly reminder to John Mozeliak that the Cardinals did not finish second in the NL Central last year.

They were THIRD — also behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Birds made a good move with trading for Marcell Ozuna (with a decent give-back to Miami of Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano). Unfortunately, either Christian Yelich (who I preferred) either wasn't available at the time, or else Mo wouldn't pay the asking price.

Also, unfortunately, the Brewers have now done that (which sending a good package of prospects, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto back to Miami).

They've now topped that with signing Lorenzo Cain as a free agent. While some folks at places like MLBTradeRumors are wondering if it's an overpay, I don't think so. While it does take the team one year deeper into Cain's age than the Cardinals' similar contract with Dexter Fowler a year ago, it's for a bit less money, has only a partial no-trade at the end of it —

And Cain is a better player.

I suspect that Derek Jeter did offer Yelich already a month ago. Price might have been a bit higher than now, but not that much. And I suspect Mo took a deliberate pass. I'm not sure what names would add up to equivalent value from St. Louis but I rank the Brewers' package for Yelich about 25-03 percent or so higher than what the Cards gave for Ozuna.

Ryan Braun still has a decent bat and is available to the Brew Crew for three more years plus a team option at $15M. In short, the Brew know what they've got out there for years to come and can build elsewhere. (Or — and with his willingness — Braun can move to first base. That presumably means Eric Thames, with a relatively low contract, gets moved, presumably for pitching. Of course, that presumes Keon Broxton will improve that much in the outfield.)

Meanwhile, Official.Cardinals.Media.™, aka the Post-Dispatch, has nothing in its own analysis of the move, or of Mo's comments a week ago that the team was generally satisfied now, and if that's still the case. No interview with Mo. Bupkis. Indeed, in Slide 12 of this slideshow, Jose de Jesus Ortiz claims that with Yelich, but not yet with Cain, the Cards of 2018 were still better than the Brew.

Update: Rick Hummel, who generally continues to fall lower in my estimate of P-D writers and columnists, claims the Brewers' pitching problems will keep them behind the Cards. This is even while admitting Mo is standing pat on a staff in flux in St. Louis. He then claims Cain and Fowler are "similar players." Cain has three 5-WAR years; Fowler has none. And, while Cain showed some decline in center field last year, he's still a plus defender, and Miller Field, being smaller than Kaufman, will help him extend his career there.

Hummel then goes on to claim the Cards have the best pitcher in the division. Yes, Carlos Martinez may have better stuff than Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks, assuming Jake Arrietta doesn't return to Chitown, but he hasn't translated that into results yet.

Also, if one values consistency, he's wrong about Ozuna being better than Yelich.

Bernie Miklasz, while thinking the Crew overpaid somewhat for Yelich, also indicates he thinks the Cards may now be looking up again.

And, one of Bernie's ESPN Radio compadres, agrees with Bernie even more strongly. Indeed, Kevin Wheeler thought the Brewers were even with the Cards BEFORE the Yelich and Cain moves. Interestingly, Wheeler also expects Cain to go to right and Yelich to play center. I can see that in another year, but think the Brewers don't want to shuffle that much this year, and Cain is still a plus defender. (In his career, Yelich has been modestly above average in left, and modestly below average in center.)

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