After publishing the below post Tuesday evening...This story ran Wednesday morning in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to validate some of my thoughts... click here
-Scott Rolen is trying to divorce Tony LaRussa and vice versa. Judge John Mozeliak is trying to make some sense of it all. Cardinals fans are being allowed inside the courtroom to watch the fun but will also have to pay the alimony if the divorce is finalized this week. All right...with that bit of analogy out of the way...let's see if we can figure out what's really going on here. I might as well make a prediction or two.
My belief is that Mo and Company are using the usual frenzied caldron of the winter meetings in Nashville to float the idea that Mr. Rolen is on the block and the potential saviour of every other team in baseball. He can be had...but your team will have to pay him and we want equal value in return... is the Cardinals line. If some other desperate GM takes the bait, Mighty Mo will talk turkey. But I'd be damn surprized if Rolen isn't wearing a Cardinals uniform at Jupiter in the spring. Here's my thinking.
-Nobody really knows whether Rolen's surgical shoulder is going to respond. He many never be able to turn on a high and tight fastball again. Everybody in baseball knows that. If you were a rival GM, would you put your job on the line gambling that Rolen will return to his old form? More importantly, would you give up one of your premiere players to find out?
-If Mo goes through the meetings and outwardly appears to be trying to accomodate both Rolen and LaRussa with a trade, he will have done his political job internally. He will at least look to both of the protagonists like he tried to meet their needs. He will be able to look at both in the eye and say.."We just couldn't get what we needed in return."...if that's what happens.
-If Johnny Mo actually wants to deal away Rolen and his 36 million dollar due bill, he is likely to get more value in return in the spring when the Jasper Kid can be evaluated by scouts and GMs of other teams. They can talk to Scotty's doctors until they are blue in the face. But the proof that he can still swing a bat will come when he actually does so. If he pops a few long ones in the spring, there will be plenty of time to talk then. If noone meets Mo's price ...then we've got our old third-baseman back and TLR can swallow hard to apologize for any misunderstanding.
I just don't see the kind of player, on the free agent market or in a trade, that will allow us to say..."Yeah...that makes sense." Don't forget, Mozeliak is operating in the very long shadow of Walt Jockety who made many a deal that got us all tingly inside. The new GM has to make his first stab at the big time count...and he knows it. That's why I'm expecting him to be extra-cautious and hold on to his "cards" until the desperados come calling.
If he surprizes me in the next few days...I just hope it's not with some "place holder" who will man the hot corner for a year until a better alternative can be found. Too many in Redbird Nation already believe that the orgnization is being overly conservative (not aggressive enough to win and still basking in the forgiving fan afterglow of the '06 World Championship) until some of the Jockety long-term deals are off the books.
That's how I see it from here. Other opinions are welcome.