The bounty to be surrendered in return for each was not expected to be high.
After all, Maroth had been on very thin ice with the Tigers, the other two had already been designated for assignment and the third had also been waived once during the season. Yet the uncertainty remained as to which three players would eventually be leaving the Cardinals organization to complete the deals.
First to go was former 2004 first-rounder, Memphis pitcher Chris Lambert. The ex-starter converted to reliever had been a disappointment for the Cardinals. So his loss was seemingly accepted by most fans despite Maroth's own struggles with St. Louis.
Next to be named is the player headed to the Red Sox for the one of the three newbies that contributed the most to the 2007 Cardinals, Pineiro. We have received a report that 25-year-old outfielder Sean Danielson has been selected to be that player.
Danielson, a switch-hitting, solid defender, had joined the Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent in 2005. This season, he was a Mid-Season Texas League All-Star for his left-field play with the Springfield Cardinals.
However on August 11, Danielson was placed on the disabled list due to a broken bone in his left thumb. He would not play again. At the time of his injury, the 5-foot-8, 165-pounder was leading his team in outfield assists with 15 (second in the Texas League).
For Springfield in 2007, the speedy Danielson batted .291 with 16 doubles and 14 stolen bases in 321 at-bats over 91 games after being promoted from High-A Palm Beach on April 19. His career line encompassing three minor league seasons is .283/.368/.351 (AVG/OBP/SLG).
With arguably the Cardinals' greatest current organizational depth in the outfield, Danielson seems a fair return for Pineiro – especially if the right-handed hurler returns to the Cardinals in 2008.
Converted by Boston to relieving from starting, which he did regularly with Seattle from 2001 through 2006, the 29-year-old Pineiro quickly became a certified bust in Beantown, lugging a 5.03 ERA behind him. It got so bad that he had been banished to Triple-A prior to the July 31st deadline trade to St. Louis.
However, with the Cardinals, Pineiro bounced back to do a good job. The Puerto Rican right-hander went 6-4 in 11 starts with a 3.96 ERA, his best campaign since 2003. His ERA was second-best among St. Louis starters, behind only Adam Wainwright at 3.70.
The organization is rumored to want Pineiro to return next season to hold down the back end of the rotation, but instead the pitcher may choose to exercise his contractual option to seek free agency.
If so, Pineiro could follow a similar path as the 2006 season's prime reclamation from the pitching scrap heap, now-Seattle pitcher Jeff Weaver, who left for more money.
The final player to be named – to be sent to Philadelphia in return for Branyan - is still unknown. The third baseman, like Pineiro (and Maroth could be) is a potential free agent to be and certainly could be leaving the organization.
Either way, those Cardinals fans worried about who might be lost as a result of the Branyan rental will have to hold their collective breath a bit longer.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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