The Sunday Night Hot Stove League Report

The St. Louis Cardinals are linked to talks with free agent starting pitcher Jeff Weaver and the Reds may still trade outfielder Austin Kearns before the season starts.



Cardinal Fans are still hungry for another deal before spring training starts. This past week, rumors surfaced again on the West Coast that the Cardinals along with the New York Mets have been linked to possible negotiations for free-agent starting pitcher Jeff Weaver.

It appears Weaver's price tag has dropped significantly as the countdown to spring training draws to a close. He was initially seeking a four-year, $45 million deal, then lowered his sights to a three-year, $27 million deal, recently.

It's unlikely that the Cardinals are interested in Weaver. This news sounds more like Weaver's agent, Scott Boras, planting stories to try to get more money for his player. The key to Boras' success has always been making teams think that there is competition out there for his clients.

The California, Los Angeles, or Anaheim Angels, whoever they are, could be close to signing a two year deal with an option for a third for the 29-year-old, right-handed, pitcher.

If they didn't have to spend so much money buying new stationery every time they changed their name, (have you bought stationery lately?) they could have already signed both Weaver and this winter's former top free agent pitcher, A.J. Burnett, by now.

The Angels would like to sign Weaver to a one-year deal with an option for a second, whereas Scott Boras is looking for a three to four-year deal. With Weaver, the Angels would have a respectable rotation that would include Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana.

Weaver could have been an option for St. Louis this winter, but after going to arbitration with Jason Marquis and signing former Baltimore starting pitcher Sidney Ponson to a guaranteed contract, that door has been closed.

Weaver is another one of those pitchers this year that will benefit from a shallow free agent market and the demand for pitchers.

The 29-year-old right-hander is not nearly as good as some Cardinal fans are thinking. I call it Dream Weaver, because to hear some people, you would think Weaver was a front line starter with Cy Young stuff.  He's more of a middle or back of the rotation starter, at least for the St. Louis Cardinals. He may be a slight upgrade over Matt Morris and Jason Marquis. Here is look at their numbers from last season:


Weaver LA Dodgers 14-11 34 34 224 220 43 157 4.22 1.17 .256
Matt Morris STL Cardinals 14-10 31 31 199.2 209 37 117 4.11 1.28 .276
Jason Marquis STL Cardinals 13-14 33 32 207.0 206 69 100 4.13 1.33 .262


Weaver never developed into the number one starter that everyone expected him to be.  He is still under 30, so it's too early to give up on him completely.   He can be his own worst enemy, losing his head when everything doesn't go his way. He gave up 35 home runs last season, given all the homers and allowing a bad pitch (He hit 18 batters last season) or bad play behind him to get him in trouble and you can see he is in trouble a lot on the mound.

He can be a steady pitcher when he can keep his head about him, but if he had pitched in St. Louis last season like he did in Los Angeles, we would be running out of town this year, instead of dreaming about him coming to St. Louis.


AUSTIN KEARNS - Conspiracy Theory

Next to the St. Louis Cardinals' Jason Marquis, no one has been linked to more trade rumors than Austin Kearns.

Reds interim GM Brad Kullman said this week that he's not in active talks with anyone regarding the 25-year-old promising outfielder Austin Kearns.

"There's a chance," Kullman said. "But I don't want to trade Austin Kearns.

Kearns hit .240 last season, but set career highs with 18 homers and 67 RBI. He hit 12 of his 18 homers after his return in mid-July from a five-week stint in the minor leagues, where he went down to find his stroke.

Those three words "There's a chance", gave some Cardinal fans hope that Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty might go out and make a deal for Kearns, considered by many as a potential "impact outfielder."

The problem is, the Cardinals already think they have an impact outfielder in Juan Encarnacion. A deal for Kearns isn't likely.  A move for Kearns by the Cardinals made more sense before Encarnacion signed his three-year deal with St. Louis.


Kearns CIN Reds 387 62 93 18 67 48 107 0 .240 .333 .452
Juan Encarnacion FL Marlins 506 59 145 16 76 41 104 6 .287 .349 .447
So Taguchi STL Cardinals 396 45 114 8 53 20 62 11 .288 .322 .412


It's a huge stretch, but for conspiracy theory fans, if you want to believe there is a big deal in the works, or if you have to have a new trade rumor every Sunday night, you could have the Cardinals sign Jeff Weaver and then trade Jason Marquis to the Reds for Austin Kearns.

Kearns has been linked to trade rumors with the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and fans will misinterpret this article and his name will now be linked to the Cardinals.

Kearns signed a one-year, $1.85 million contract with the Reds last month. He may still be traded before spring training starts, but I doubt it.

A deal with St. Louis in the works? It isn't going to happen, but you try coming up with something every Sunday night. J



Assistant general manager John Mozeliak interviewed for the Reds' vacant general manager position with the team's new majority owner, Bob Castellini. "It was a very impressive experience," said Mozeliak. The Reds' gain would be the Cardinals' loss.



Belleville, Ill., native Brian Daubach should get plenty of opportunity to play first base in camp as a non-roster player. Albert Pujols will be gone much of the time at the World Baseball Classic.



The Cardinals aren't expected to have more than three players gone for the WBC. That's three too many. Besides Pujols, catcher Yadier Molina is slated to play for Puerto Rico and LHP Ricardo Rincon for Mexico.

What is with all this moonlighting? Especially with the Cardinals everyday catcher Yadier Molina. After playing in winter ball, Molina will have less than two weeks to report to spring training and then he's gone again before you know it, for the World Baseball Classic from March 3 - 20.

Molina most likely will be a back up, even potentially the third string catcher behind teammates, future Hall of Famer and Gold Glove catcher, Ivan Rodriguez and Yadier's older brother, Bengie Molina.

I'm sorry, what is more important; Yadier Molina to be working out with the new members of the Cardinals' bullpen and Sidney Ponson in spring training, or for him to sit on the bench in the WBC?

Here's the bottom line, you sign a major league contract to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, that should be a full time job. When spring training begins, you should be there or the Cardinals should be compensated from Major League Baseball for the loss of the services of Molina, Pujols and Rincon.



LHP Randy Flores (left elbow surgery) should be ready for spring training.

3B Scott Rolen is rehabilitating after a second shoulder surgery and should be ready for spring training. It is possible, he could begin the season on the DL, but know one is really going to know for sure what he can do until he actually takes the field in Spring Training.

RHP Al Reyes probably will be re-signed as a free agent even though he isn't able to pitch, might be back by August after off season Tommy John surgery.



ARRIVALS: RHP Sidney Ponson (free agent from Baltimore), 2B Junior Spivey (free agent from Washington), RF Juan Encarnacion (free agent from Florida), Braden Looper (free agent from New York Mets), 2B Aaron Miles (traded from Colorado), OF Larry Bigbie (traded from Colorado), LHP Ricardo Rincon (free agent from Oakland), C Gary Bennett (free agent from Washington), SS Deivi Cruz (free agent from Washington), RHP Juan Mateo (Rule 5 draft from Chicago Cubs), RHP Dennis Tankersley (minor league free agent from Kansas City), 1B-OF Brian Daubach (minor league free agent from Mets), RHP John Riedling (minor league free agent from Florida).

DEPARTURES: 3B Abraham Nunez (free agent, signed with Philadelphia), RHP Cal Eldred (retired), RF Larry Walker (retired), RHP Matt Morris (free agent, signed with San Francisco), LHP Ray King (traded to Colorado), OF-INF John Mabry (free agent, signed with Chicago Cubs), 2B Mark Grudzielanek (free agent, signed with Kansas City), LF Reggie Sanders (free agent, signed with Kansas City), C Einar Diaz (free agent, signed with Cleveland).



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