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stumpak wrote:Any Cards fan care to comment on the odds of 1) Isringhausen not being asked back or deciding to go elsewhere and 2) Perez making the MLB roster coming out of ST and 3) the odds of Perez assuming the closer mantle next year provided he performs well this season.
It also seems that there is a solid chance that Isringhausen will get moved at the deadline if the Cards are out of contention.
In fact, the only player who seems to be really happy about things is Jason Isringhausen. During his Winter Warmup press conference, Izzy publicly pronounced, among other things, that he would exercise his no trade clause to block any potential deal. He also nixed the idea of his retirement being imminent.
"As long as I do my job, I'll be happy. I want to stay here."
All right. Now, I'm the first guy to applaud a player who genuinely seems to want to play for a specific team. A player who isn't interested in the typical mercernary behaviour we've come to expect from our athletes is a rare commodity, in my opinion. It's refreshing. I'm also at the head of the line to give all the kudos in the world to Izzy. After some of the nasty things I said about him in 2006, as well as some of the nasty things that I thought but didn't vocalise, I owe it to the man. He's healthy, and he's proven his worth. However, with all of those positive, feel good vibrations that I've got going toward Isringhausen, his current stance presents the club with a very sticky situation.
I think that most of us can agree that the 2008 St. Louis Cardinals are not a great bet to be a real contender. Lots of people think they could be competitive, and there may be some truth to that. But even the most optimistic among us have to be aware that it isn't going to be an easy road this season. The division is rapidly getting better around the Cardinals, and they're in a transition period. So, we're looking at a team that is a marginal contender, with an eight million dollar closer. Does a team in that position really need to be spending that on a commodity that will probably be seriously underutilised by the club? It's a tough question, and one that I'm not really sure I can answer satisfactorily, even just to myself.
The real conundrum we have here is because of Izzy's absolute desire to play here, and pretty much only here. Ordinarily, a team that falls out of contention, with an elite closer in the last year of a deal, would be an excellent bet to do one thing and one thing only: trade him. A top tier closer is a luxury that a non contending team simply doesn't need; the return they can get for such a valuable piece can often go a long way toward turning around the fortunes of a struggling team. In this case, however, Isringhausen is on record, declaring he won't allow himself to be traded. Okay, that's fine. He can just finish out his term here, move on with our everlasting gratitude and best wishes, and the Cardinals can reap the bounty that such a high quality free agent will bring, in the form of the draft picks.
See, this is where this situation gets really interesting. Izzy has proven, by words and actions, that he really doesn't have any real desire to go anywhere else. Given that fact, if the Cards really wanted to expunge him from the payroll at the end of the year, can they possibly risk offering him arbitration? To me, the answer is no. I think, if you offer Izzy arbitration, he'll just accept it. I think he would be happy to get paid market value for his services, while continuing to play where he wants to be. If the Cards really didn't want him back for 2009, they can't offer him arbitration. Of course, that means they don't get the draft picks that would help them bring in the players to turn this ship around. So, at this point, it looks to me as if the Cardinals flat out cannot get rid of Izzy, if they hope to get any kind of return at all for his departure. If you offer him arb., with the hope of reaping the draft pick bounty, he accepts. If you really want to get him off the books, you have to accept that you're going to get absolutely nothing for him.
So, what course of action can the Cardinals possibly pursue? Should they keep Izzy around? He does appear to be healthy, and when he's healthy, he's still a hell of a closer. On the other hand, they do have a whole lot of bullpen arms coming along very soon, including a couple who look as if they could definitely be closer candidates. Do they let him walk? At that point, they get absolutely nothing. Bupkes. Not even draft picks. What say you, denizens of Viva El Birdos?
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