Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Newest Khardinal

Pending a physical, Khalil Greene will be the starting SS for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, traded from the San Diego Padres for 2 minor league relievers who've yet to be named.

For more a great breakdown of Khalil Greene's stats, check out Bernie Miklasz's Extra Points. For a look at how Greene fits into the revolving door of Cardinal Middle Infielders in the last five years, check out Derrick Goold's latest entry in his Birdland Blog.

Greene in 1000 words or less: Above-average D, good pop, strikes out a ton, can't take a walk, good 2007, awful 2008. 1-year and 6.5 mill left in his contract.

Now here's the real scoop on Greene, completely unbiased. There's just something about this guy I've never liked. Maybe it's the mullet. Maybe it's the perma-sneer he always sports. He reminds me of the kid who started smoking when he was 11. After a soccer or basketball game, you always came out with an extra Charlie Horse or two. Even if he was on your team. I can't stand that guy.

Then again, the last two mullet-headed Cardinals that I can remember have actually worked out. There was late 90's fan favorite Gary Gaetti, and of course 2006 World Series hero Jeff Weaver. Greene and Weaver are definitely competing in some kind of contest. I bet in the locker room they both complain about Mr. Hand constantly. LaRussa is going to go ballistic when Greene has a pizza delivered to the dugout.

In all seriousness, there are plenty of reasons to like or dislike this trade. He's coming off an awful year, but if he turns in 2007 numbers for 6.5 mill, that's probably a good deal. He can't take a walk, but he has good power for a SS. He has a pretty bad career Batting Average and strikes out a ton, but he's played his whole career in an extreme pitcher's park and is entering a contract year. It's very hard to evaluate the deal without knowing the 2 players the Cards traded, but ultimately I think the fact that Greene has only one year on his contract makes this a deal that has more upside than downside, and fills a hole in the lineup. It's better than giving Felipe Lopez the multi-year deal he wants.

So taken by itself, I'm fine with the deal. There's a bigger picture here, though, that frustrates me and many other Cardinal fans. This deal just reiterates the theory that ownership's plan is to keep the Cardinals just good enough to fill the seats. The Padres have made it very clear that they intend to trade Jake Peavy this off-season. The Braves and the Cubs have been rumored as potential suitors, and the rumored return packages (all prospects or cheap major-league talent) don't seem like something the Cards couldn't match. Jake Peavy is one of the best pitchers in the majors, and is under contract and under paid for the next 4 years.

Khalil Greene probably doesn't make the Cards much better or worse. Jake Peavy gets the Cards in the playoffs.


Roller said...

Rye, the comparison you made to the Juan Encarnacion signing is a good one. At least Greene has only one year left on his deal. The $6.5 mill is probably more than he's worth, but assuming 2008 was a fluke, it's probably not far from even value.

Roller said...

Oh, and while everyone is stopping by, be sure to check out Ryan's post from yesterday since I totally stole his thunder.

Ryan said...

OK, you've calmed me down a little.

As long as he can do a cartwheel into a backflip, i will like him. Actually, as long as he can play above average D and twist double plays, I think he will be fine for a year.

As you point out, SD is a tank of a ballpark for sure, but how much extra bang will we see? He very consistently hit 15 HR a year, not to mention doesn't know how to play a full season.

His 162 game pro-rated average is actually 21 HR a year. With half his games at Hardees park, what... 20-25 HR if he stays healthy longer than 120 games?

Bat him where, 6th?

Perhaps this will make more sense if a larger plan is in place, especially for some pitching.

Jim said...

You don't mind paying big $$ for greatness, but how do you evaluate "greatness." Is CC "great"? He was the 2nd half of last year, but I can tell you for a fact that he wasn't the first couple months of 2008 (he was on my team). Will he be great next year? Probably. The year after? Maybe. In year 7 of a $140MM contract? Almost certainly no. The difference between the Yankees and the Cards is the Yankees can absorb the severe negative drag of this deal in the out years whereas the Cards cannot. The margin of error is much slimmer. Frankly, the fact that the Cards got out of the Rolen contract was a stroke of genius by the GM.

Is that true? Peavy for a couple minor leaguers? Really? Doesn't really seem to make sense, esp when very average guys like Lohse get 4 yrs for $40MM.

So I read something today that was talking about this guy Rasmus being the starting CF and batting leadoff. Didn't he totally suck last year in the minors? I know people have been talking about him for the last few years as the next big thing, but what has he done?

Roller said...

Excellent points all around, Jim. Can't add anything to the mega-contract point you made - well said. And I totally agree with you re: Rolen.

With regards to the Peavy deal, it's not just a couple minor leaguers. The rumors that I've read are that the packages sent to the Padres usually involve a team's top prospect, as well as 3 more good prospects. In ATL's case, the rumors have been focused around their top pitching prospect, Yunel Escobar (their current, young, talented SS) and a couple other minor leaguers.

The Padres have decided to cutback their already small budget, and Peavy is due slightly north of 60 million over the next 4 years. While that's unimaginable money to 99.99999% of the world, in baseball Peavy is actually underpaid (he's a slight step down from Santana, who makes something like 22 mill / year).

I think you and I have the same gut reaction, which is, if all they want is Rasmus or Ludwick, the Cards' top 2 pitching prospects and some minor leaguer... why isn't this deal done? But either the GMs aren't nearly as smart as us, or the Padres are asking for more. It seems that most teams are tightening their belts this off-season, so perhaps they're not as willing to trade 4 guys making ~1 million for 1 guy making 16 million.

With regards to Rasmus starting in CF and batting leadoff, don't believe anything you read. I've read everything from that to him being a 4th OF. The only thing I'm almost certain of is that he'll be in the majors. It's true, he had a disappointing 2008, but he was 21 years old in AAA, and I believe he was injured part of the year, too. As a 20-year-old in AA, he was great. I am hoping that's what's in the cards, so to speak.

Rye, good question on where to bat Greene... my guess is 6th or 7th (he and Molina the candidates for those spots). That assumes Kennedy is still on the team and bats 9th. If the Cards get a 2B that can hit... who knows.

For fun, here's what the lineup may look like next year (Jim, don't believe this):

CF Rasmus
RF Ankiel
1B Pujols
LF Ludwick
3B Glaus
C Molina
SS Greene
P John Tudor
2B Kennedy

Good to hear everyone's thoughts, keep'em comin.

John Hanrahan said...

According to David Eckstein the Cardinals are looking to sign him to play 2nd base. Looks like they are shopping Kennedy.

Rollo I agree with you on Greene, I just dont like the guy.

Roller said...

Johnny, I've heard that about Eckstein, too, thanks for bringing it up.

Kennedy has demanded a trade, but his .280/.321/.372 line and the $4.5 mill he's due next year don't make him incredibly attractive. Eck's line last year? .265/.343/.349. Ugh.

Add in the fact that by most metrics Kennedy was (as usual) on of the best defensive 2B in the game last year, and it doesn't make much sense to trade Kennedy and sign Eckstein (seems like a move that is a net negative).

I suppose that depends on how much you value the intangibles, like Kennedy being pissy in the clubhouse and Eck's all around hustle and leadership.

Would you guys prefer Kennedy or Eck? Hopefully there are other alternatives, too.

John Hanrahan said...

I would rather have Eck. He lives in Orlando and is small enough to fit in my pocket.

Kennedy is not good enough to deal with him being a pain in the ass

Ryan said...

Sweet comments, I haven't head any of this stuff.

Based on what you guys are saying, not sure I'd like Eckstein over Kennedy. Pissy? Really? I think LaRussa is pissy. Let's play ball.

Spicolli should bat 6th. His only positive attribute is power, so I wouldn't want to bury that too deep.

Yeah, Jim, there's no one way to define greatness. I think Sabbathia is probably great though. WOrth a 7 year contract? Maybe not. Anytime someone mentions a 6+ year contract, it has to be a *very* special player, even on offense. Pitchers, almost never.

We'll see what else Mraozliak has up his sleeve...

Roller said...

Maybe.... the Cards should trade Kennedy for Peavy!!!

Marty said...

I got an 85 on the test thing...kennedy is a whiner...where the hell is coovo...there needs to be more loop/chambana representation...tribune company filed for bankruptcy today....but the cubs are apparently still allowed to pursue a jake peavy trade...

Jim said...

Yeah, these GMs are so stupid. If I was the GM, I would just trade all of our bad players for guys who are totally awesome. As example, I would be willing to trade Kennedy AND an Imo's pizza for Arod. I figure other GMs won't be able to resist the sweet smell of an IMOs and that will be my secret weapon. Brilliant.

So, I guess the Padres want 2-4 major league ready players for Peavy and while the Cards were on Peavy's list of teams he would play for, the Pads didn't like our available players. Oh well.

Roller said...

I read today that the Cards have discussed Peavy with the Padres, but refuse to include Rasmus in any deal. There are 2 pitchers and 1 position player (all minor league) that the Cards said they would include an any such deal.

Here's a take on Greene from a blogger I really enjoy reading at Viva El Birdos.

Roller said...

Also, Marty, good to hear from you again. I would love to hear what you Cubbie fans think of your off-season so far, and the idea of getting Peavy.

Ryan said...

Roller, I think the guy at Viva El Birdos was a little too ecstatic. Here's Jason Grey's comments on Greene's "upgrade" for coming to the Cards. Not exactly evaluating the trade, but what to expect:

The main thing I like about the Greene trade is that it's only for one year and didn't cost much.

Jim, you've got me hungry for IMO's now.