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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

La Russa still in general manager mode

Given his over three decades of success in the dugout, it is only natural that St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has a key voice in team player personnel decisions.

Still, some moves made by the club in recent years seem to have more than the expected amount of La Russa’s fingerprints on them. Last week’s trade of Colby Rasmus to Toronto was the most recent.

La Russa is still at it. Apparently his cell phone was out of service on Tuesday when the skipper sent general manager John Mozeliak a clear to-do via the media.

With only one left-handed reliever in a bullpen that normally has two, La Russa apparently covets veteran lefty hurler Arthur Rhodes, who was designated for assignment by Texas on Tuesday. The 41-year-old, a 20-year MLB veteran, posted a 4.81 ERA in 32 games for the Rangers in 2011 after a pair of solid seasons with Cincinnati.

“He’s been a hell of a (professional) for a long, long time,” La Russa told the media, speaking of Rhodes. “He has all of our respect. Does that sound like (I’m) intrigued?”

DFAing Rhodes means the Rangers have ten days to decide his fate – trade, release or assignment to the minors if he clears waivers.

Not only did La Russa’s public comments put Mozeliak on the spot, they signaled to Texas and the rest of baseball the Cardinals’ intent.

If it had been prior to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, the Rangers, knowing the high level of La Russa’s interest, could have decided to jack up Rhodes’ selling price. Even now, the Cardinals may face a heightened risk of losing out on Rhodes. Another club, especially one trailing the Cards in the tight National League Central race, might choose to claim the reliever off waivers just to block him from St. Louis.

The Rangers are currently on the hook to pay Rhodes around $1.3 million for the final two months of the season. Any team that claims him would have to pick up that financial commitment. Rhodes’ contract also includes a 2012 option for $4 million that is based on both appearances and good health that he most likely will not achieve.

Signaling personnel wants through the media is not the Cardinals normal mode of operation as they have been most successful in the past making stealth moves.

Certainly La Russa should be consulted about his opinions of potentially-available players on other clubs, but the organization may be better served if he keeps them behind closed doors.

On the other hand, in this particular case, missing out on a 41-year-old reliever who may be on his last legs may turn out to be the right (non-) move for the Cardinals, anyway.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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29 Responses to “La Russa still in general manager mode”

  1. crdswmn says:

    What is TLR’s fascination with other teams’ castoffs? He was DFA’d for a reason, he sucks.

    I hope we don’t get Rhodes. Ugh.

  2. Kansasbirdman says:

    crdswmn brought this up before, about the Yankees color guys surmising that the Brewers were stealing signs at home. Now the issue is being examined again, interesting the facts seem to support it. Now that we are on the lookout I hope we can catch it before it does any more damage if it is occuring, I know sign stealing is part of baseball. I wonder if they gave braun a head’s up that he was going to be plunked. Haha.

    Also, my understanding that the Cards filed a complaint about the Brewers LED’s changing color. Is that on a display/ad screen or the actual lights for the stadium? If it is one of the scrolling banners I wonder if they have any code to show the sign to the batter? I also wondered about the banners and the one in LF as they flash blue with white dots and if they do that only when the opposing team is in the outfield (hard to tell on TV). A team could really use a big light banner like that in the second row or elsewhere to make it hard to find a ball in a popup or on D. That is not the same a sign-stealing that is cheating. I wonder what the complaint was- no one is commenting.

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      Iguess the postscript to the above article discusses the lighting issue.

      Roeneke’s answer “If we are I know nothing about it” is a non-denial denail.

    • crdswmn says:

      I brought up the Yankees and the Brewers sign stealing issue only because of the Brewer fan who commented that he had seen a clip from a camera angle he had never seen before. He seemed to be suggesting the possibility of a spotter in right center field. I didn’t put much stock in it then, and I still don’t. I just thought it was an interesting comment coming from a Brewers fan.

      The light thing was just silly. I cannot see how a light banner dimming could possibly affect the hitter’s view enough to matter.

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        I guess I should’ve clarified that you had mentioned the subject, didn’t mean to give an impression that you had an opinion or complaint on the subject. I was just saying that this appears to be a reoccuring subject in MLB and the Cards arent’ the first to bring it up.

        I think lighting and shadows can affect a lot to a batter and to a defender. I thought about it Monday night when they had a shot of Holliday in LF and the banner behind him was blue with a bunch of white circles and I thought, man that could be distracting or a ball could be lost in that. Jay had a play that night where it looked like he lost the ball on a popup.

      • Brian Walton says:

        Dunno, but brightening if it is in the sight line of the hitter or fielder could matter. Don’t know if it is the case here.

        Regarding sign stealing, everyone knows the risk, so change them more frequently.

        Having said that, all sign stealing is not equal. There is a difference between on-field personnel noticing tendencies or a batter peeking at a catcher and cameras set up with a system to relay info to batters. The latter, if caught, should lead to heavy fines at a minimum.

        • crdswmn says:

          I agree about the cameras Brian I just haven’t seen any evidence to convince me the Brewers are doing it, the musings of a Brewers fan notwithstanding. If they are doing it and they get caught, then yes, there should be consequences.

          Maybe some opposing team should hire Keith Olbermann. 🙂

        • Kansasbirdman says:

          I can see a difference, yeah. So many written and unwritten rules to learn. I guess a good rule of thumb would be if it can be done in a neutral location it is fair game?

  3. easy says:

    Sign stealing from center field sounds a little far fetched to me but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Cardinals’ signs aren’t being stolen on the field at times. As noted here before they’ve lost several recent games because of one bad inning in the midst of otherwise very well pitched games. When they’ve changed the signs after the bad innings things get back to normal. This has happened against a variety of teams at home and on the road.
    I don’t know much about how signs are arrived at but it is possible that cetain teams’ systems are easier to figure out than others.

  4. Brian Walton says:

    Wednesday afternoon lineup: Furcal 6, Theriot 4, Pujols 3, Holliday 7, Berkman 9, Freese 5, Molina 2, Patterson 8, Jackson 1.

  5. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    There are a number of ways to cheat………….I pointed that out last time we played there…… Ryan Braun got the signal from the man at second to step out just after Molina had given the signal……the only problem was……….he turned around and headed back for no reason before Braun actually stepped out..precipitating the time call………..I commented on it at the time………. th issue is, there are a lot of ways to spot……….and there are a lot of ways to signal……often times, just the likely hood of a change up or breaking pitch in a given situation is enough……….. Brewers wouldn’t even involve all players in a scheme like that………..just 3or 4……… would be too obvious………. I’m sure they are doing it….we likely do a few thing from second our selves…….its the game…….

    the lighting issue????? Stadium is kept a little dim……..home team has some added illumination from a particularize sequence of words using bright lights instead of color……..why not……….just takes someone paying attention …………… the coaches denial is way too obvious……he likes his job…..
    the league will be evaluating that now.

    • crdswmn says:

      A league with Bud Selig at the helm evaluating the Brewers? I think not.

      As to other teams stealing signs? Sure it happens. Last season I recall a situation where Yadi hit a salami in Miller Park and one Cardinal fan at the game later claimed (might have been here or somewhere else?) he saw Colby signalling from 2B to Yadi right before the pitch was thrown.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        everybody does that CRD………..its the game……… as long as it stays within the playing field, its all fair game……….. The Brewers appear to doing a little more “analysis” with some of their franchise players…..
        some one doing it off field can review and solve likely decoy signs in a very short sequence. Its not rocket science………. and the on field guys aren’t likely candidates for the Air force Academy………

  6. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Some of the other posters here seem to be interested in contributing today……… I’m won’t be do any analysis today………….maybe Brian can encourage them to entertain everyone with their baseball savvy…………hope we have a good day…………

  7. crdswmn says:

    Not a good start for Jackson. I hope he settles in.

  8. crdswmn says:

    Much better.

    Furcal with a 3 run bomb. Nice to see.

  9. crdswmn says:


    • Brian Walton says:

      Unconfirmed report that Bernie Brewer has worn out the seat of his uniform pants with six innings to go.

      Waiting to Jumbo to stop back by with happy thoughts about Jackson’s home run rate. 😉

      • JumboShrimp says:

        I remember a game last season during which Chris Carpenter surrendered at least 3 HRs at Milwaukee. It happens. Carpenter is still a good pitcher. And Jackson’s HR rate is 1 every 9 IP, not at all bad.
        McGeehee slugged a HR to win a game in extra innings last year. He is like Bud Norris, Mark Teahan, Carlos Beltran (in 05), or John Edwards (when he played for Houston).

        Jackson did a good job to eat 7 innings and let relievers rest up.

  10. Kansasbirdman says:

    I should have gone to the game, he pitches better when I’m there 🙂

  11. Kansasbirdman says:

    Why no BP help? Has tony given up on this game?

  12. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Albert Pujols (notes) played after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday night near where he broke his left wrist earlier this season. He finished 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.

    “He’ll never admit to anything. It is what it is,” La Russa said. “I’m sure he’s sore. No excuses.”

    It is what it is…………………………………………….

    The simple facts…………Pujols took 5 jacks at getting to his 30 Hr target…….little else crossed his mind……….

    Molina was beside himself with remorse today for him tantrum……….. I could care less about the Tantrum…………… his acting victimized at the expense of the team………… sucks…….. nice call by Tony…………..

    Tony calling for a 40+ yr old lefty………. when he is kid gloving his whole pen at the expense of a beleaguered starter………… that can happen………did it really need to happen???? he doesn’t want to use Zepisky because he might have a match up late in the game?????????? and he wants to add Rhodes to further limit the inning of support he gets from his pen…………?????????? because he likes to go to the mound to make match up changes???????????

    The new guys are carrying the team……… and TLR is still trying to validate Theriot or Schumaker at 2nd………. THE ONLY REASON SKIP’S HEAD HASN’T EXPLODED…….IS THAT THERIOT IS THAT BAD……….he knows he won’t be shown up………….. we need a third base bat to back up Freese…..Punto/Descalso in the infield…….release both trouble spots………..

    My prediction……….the only way TLR coaches here in 2012…….is if Pujols excepts the small deal and adds that as a demand………….and Tony knows it too…………… Furcal is feeding……..he will get 3/24 from someone………… Patterson is a reject……….that is our best defensive outfielder……and a better hitter the Jay at present……..luckily, that fact should have Jay returning to form……kid needs inner team composition………… Cardinal money reversed the money lines by 20 points….going from +115 to -106…….Vegas was laughing the whole time………they killed today……….. Cards are underdogs so far against Florida…………….even though we have the BIG THREE…………..

    • CariocaCardinal says:


      Theroit was your darling boy at the start of the season – what happened?

      No one gives Furcal 3 years guaranteed.

      Vegas could care less who wins.

  13. JumboShrimp says:

    Is there is a problem in Tony LaRussa expressing admiration for Arthur Rhodes? No.

    There is no secret interest of the Cards to protect. If Mo calls the Rangers about Rhodes, the Rangers will probably leak interest to their reporters and the news will show up at MLB Trade Rumors. So what harm is there in TLR expressing admiration for the career of a great warrior, Rhodes?

    Rhodes is circa 41. He has been DFA’d going into a stretch run, something that has probably not happenned to him before. He is not a hot commodity in the trade market. TLR does Arthur a favor by talking him up. Rhodes and his agent are gratetful, as they should be. If Rhodes is released, maybe he will choose to sign with that nice TLR.

    Meanwhile the Cards can use another lefty, after dumping Tallet and Miller on the Jays. Rhodes would be helpful. Let’s hope he signs with us.

    But if Rhodes does not sign with us or the Rangers trade him elsewhere, not to worry, we have 41 year old Ron Mahay at the ready in Memphis, because Mo has been thinking ahead!!!

    • Bw52 says:

      Jumbo-Mahay is doing okay at AAA Memphis 9 games 8.1 IP 1 ER 2 BB 6 K
      lefies hitting .313 vs him
      Righties hitting .133
      both small sample size.He was getting lit up at Reno earlier this year.Doing better at Memphis.That said i will be surprised if he ends in STlouis in September.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Bw, you have a bet. I will bet Mahay will be in StL during September, if not before. TLR and DD probably regard Mahay as a MLer and if they find roster room, up Ron will come.

  14. JumboShrimp says:

    “…they have been most successful in the past making stealth moves.”

    Not everyone liked the secret trade of Dan Haren for Mark Mulder.

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