Though This Be Madness...

From the World According to Joe Mammy

Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.


Is Walt Jocketty a madman or a genius?  With the great AJ Burnett sweepstakes I thought for sure Walt had lost his mind.  $10 million a year for four years plus an option?  Unless Burnett was the second coming of Bob Gibson or even Chris Carpenter it seemed like a poor move.  I know I (and a few others of the Cardinal faithful) breathed a sigh of relief when the Blue Jays apparently thought the sky was just the right price for Burnett and coughed even more (!?!) than the Cards.


I kept asking myself, what's he thinking?  It's not that the Cards haven't chased down free agents before, but to do it so publicly and for so much seemed, well, not very Cardinal-esque.  I sat in awe as guys with underwhelming credentials were getting superstar money: Kyle Farnsworth getting just a hair under $6 million a year?  Even the $10 million a year for Brian Giles scared me.  The hype just kept building and building and frantic bidding wars ensued and I was left wondering if we'd end up paying $7 million a year to get Estaban Yan back.


But Walt is a crafty sort.  With the Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies and Cubs wheeling and dealing and spending money right and left the big buyers have quite possibly done their Christmas shopping already.  But what's this, it's also arbitration season.  Already there are names floating around that frankly sound more appealing than many of the early free agents.  Brian Walton has done a nifty piece on arbitration and sets the stage for what could be Jocketty's real motivation.


Famous for his reclamation and rehab projects, the arbitration deadline seems to be when the fun really begins.  So were the Cards really interested in AJ Burnett?  I think they were, but what, if in a Machiavellian twist of fate, Jocketty was more worried about certain teams outbidding them for players not offered arbitration.  How do you prevent that?  Well, you help them spend their disposable income by countering their every offer until you get it up to, I don't know, $55 million over five years?  Of course if you ascribe to this theory you might be watching for black helicopters and wearing foil on your head, but it kinda makes you think, doesn't it?


The other part of the season that's interesting is watching former Cardinal alumni being shuffled.  Two former favorites appear to be on the move.  Baltimore did the expected and got rid of chronic malcontent Steve Kline.  While I still get a kick out of Kline, getting out of Baltimore was the best thing that could have happened to him.  And last year's biggest upset, Edgar Renteria who left the Cardinals for deeper pockets has apparently already left his new employers feeling underwhelmed.  The Red Sox have already been rumored to be taking a mulligan on Renteria by shipping him off to Atlanta ultimately in exchange for Devil Rays shortstop Julio Lugo.  That Eckstein deal looks better and better with each passing year.


And finally, speaking of Eckstein, it should be mentioned that he was recently named to Maxim magazine's "25 Biggest Little Dudes of All Time"  He checked in at #16 beating out such luminaries as Andrew Carnegie, Kurt Cobain and Bruce Lee, unfortunately still falling short of Yoda, Napoleon and Angus Young of AC/DC.  So I guess that means there's another trophy to put in the 2005 trophy case alongside Pujols' MVP and Carp's Cy Young.


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