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Cardinals GM explains the Jhonny Peralta signing

Nov 25, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

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St. Louis signing Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53 million contract with the intention of playing him at shortstop seemed to shock an awful lot of people, so I thought general manager John Mozeliak’s pre-signing comments about acquiring a shortstop were worth noting (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch):

One of the things we looked at when acquiring a shortstop was the amount of acquisition cost. For us, the asking price in the trade market seemed very prohibitive. There are two top shortstop candidates in the market, and one of the differences between them is there’s a righthanded hitter and a lefthanded hitter. We’re looking for a fit.

In other words the Cardinals tried to trade for a shortstop, but found the various asking prices (Shelby Miller? Matt Adams?) way too high. They also didn’t really feel like giving up a draft pick to sign Stephen Drew. And then finally they preferred the right-handed hitting Peralta over the left-handed hitting Drew, just in terms of how he fit into the existing lineup.

So they decided to simply throw money at the problem (and trust Peralta’s defensive numbers).

  1. spudchukar - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    For me the leverage angle is a much more reasonable and understandable argument. The right-handed thing could be an issue, but that is only if Taveras assumes a primary roster spot immediately. With the acquisition of Bourjos, the Cards are primed to start an all right-handed outfield with a right-handed catcher, so a 4 left-handed infield would bring a 4-4 balance, and I thought that was optimal.

    But saving the draft choice, and holding on to all the young arms, and force teams to come begging is a scenario that makes a lot of sense. With the trade of Freese the Cards payroll dropped to around 73 mil. With only a couple of mild increases in order. They had a lot of dispensable cash, and used it to overpay for a player at a need position, with no other options. Well done Cards brass.

    • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      Plus, one of them has Scott Boras as an agent, and while in and of itself, that is not a problem, Boras loves to slow play his clients. If the Cardinals went after Drew, there is no way they would be able to get a deal done quickly without overpaying by a LOT. Waiting to see if they could get a reasonable deal done with Drew would have meant that Peralta would have already signed and they would risk getting neither guy…putting them back at square 1 with respect to obtaining a SS and looking at overpaying in talent to address the need.

      Now, they have a solid SS option, still have payroll flexibility, AND still have all of their young talent.

      • spudchukar - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        Yeah, who wants to dick around with Boras? The uncertainty would have been angst inducing. The decisiveness of the Red Bird management is to be complemented. They recognized the realities and jumped on the best viable option.

        Looks like the Yanks will get Beltran. I know we discussed this earlier, but to be clear, the Cards will still get the Yanks pick for Granderson, wherever he signs, and not their second round pick due to the McCann deal. Correct?

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Nope. The Cardinals will get the same comp pick (between the 1st and 2nd rounds) regardless of who signs him. But if the Yanks sign him (as opposed to a team with a protected pick), then the Yanks lose their 1st rounder, moving up both the Cardinal first rounder and their comp pick one spot….but I don’t know if moving up like that affects the spending pool or not…seems like it should.

      • spudchukar - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        OK, thanks.

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        Wait, so the yanks already lost their first, if they sign another FA, they will lose their next highest pick, which for them will be one of their comp picks, not their 2nd rounder. At least, I am pretty sure that is how it works….teams lose their highest remaining pick for each QO FA they sign and no picks are protected except for top 10 picks.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        You’re correct, the forfeiture is 1st > supp (however many they may be) > 2nd

      • Kevin S. - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:23 PM

        No, the Yanks have already surrendered their first rounder. Additional QO FA result in the dissolution of their later picks. Cards should actually hope a different team signs Beltran (as long as they don’t have a top-ten pick) – the Cardinals still get the same supplemental pick, but their picks move up one because of the dissolved pick used on Beltran.

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        Right…but the Yanks will lose a comp pick for the next QO FA they sign, right? Comp picks aren’t protected, I don’t think….still not as good as another team signing him that doesn’t have a protected 1st.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Don’t worry, folks. McGwire will straighten this kid out.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      That’s really nice of the Dodgers hitting coach to work with a Cardinals player. Do you think he’ll run over and give him tips when the two teams are playing each other, or will that be seen as a conflict of interest?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        I keep forgetting about that. Still seems weird for him to be in blue.

      • spudchukar - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        Magic signs recognized only by PED users. The steroids produce a trance-like state that transcends detection by the mere mortals who haven’t achieved the elevated consciousness. It is a kind of mind-warp thing that cannot be perfected without the added influence of HGH.

    • temporarilyexiled - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Count me in the vast minority who just thinks this is funny, and aren’t getting hung up on taste or reality.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        I’m flattered by the number of opinions on my writing!

  3. jc4455 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Another issue is Boras’s tendency to wait until very late in the off-season to sign his guys. The Cardinals likely didn’t want to be sitting there in January with Kozma, few or no trade options, and one free agent shortstop available.

  4. okwhitefalcon - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    By keeping the draft pick the Cards also retain the slot money that goes along with it as well.

    A lot of moving parts with this decision/signing, seems like every possible scenario was considered and all things were considered – hardly a knee jerk reaction to a glaring need.

  5. forsch31 - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    I agree….Mozeliak is probably the last GM to do a knee-jerk reaction. Before the off-season started, Goold had a story about how the Cardinals prepared for the shortstop search starting last year and positioned themselves financially to acquire a free agent if necessary. The Cardinals were still prepared to trade, and talked with both the Rangers and Diamondbacks about possible deals at the beginning of the off-season, but I suspect the Fielder-Kinsler trade changed the market and demands enough that St. Louis went to plan B. I also think the Freese-Bourjos trade was part of this–improving the defense at 3B (exchanging Freese for Carpenter) and 2B (Carpenter for Wong), thus allowing them to pick up an average defensive shortstop who provided more offense.

    Another factor: Peralta’s been more durable than Drew for several seasons now. Granted, some of that is going to be questioned because of Peralta’s admitted PED use, but nobody seems completely clear on what exactly he took, because MLB never released the information. If it was amphetamines, as has been rumored, then that’s not a maintaining heath or recovery from injury issue. I doubt the Cardinals were willing to go to 4 years if Peralta’s durability was in question.

    • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      It was biogenesis, so probably he was using testosterone (or some derivative form of it = steroids) and/or HGH (which is actually a performance inhibitor as healthy adults with normal HGH levels that take additional HGH experience a reduction in stamina).

  6. APBA Guy - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    As I said the other day after the post of the AGM’s interview, the Cards front office is a bunch of smart guys making informed, reality based decisions.

  7. blues1988 - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    great article putting everything in perspective.

  8. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Word is, they also were looking at JJ Hardy.

    • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      Yeah, until the Orioles asked for something crazy in return for 1 year of Hardy. I am sure they exhausted ever trade option to determine which approach would cost the least in dollars/talent for the return they would get.

  9. railcarcowboy - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Why was Furcal never an option? He was around the club all of last season. If he was never an option I would’ve cut him loose as soon as he opted for surgery.

    • forsch31 - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      Actually he wasn’t around the club for all season. He was only there for the postseason to be a cheerleader in the dugout, like Chris Carpenter was. Furcal rehabbed in Florida. You also can’t cut injuried players; the Cardinals put him on the DL as soon as surgery was necessary (Furcal opted for rehab in the off-season, but didn’t make it through spring training).

      Furcal has more injury concerns than Drew, and considering that the Cardinals experienced those issues last year (which put Kozma in the starting position), there was zero interest in bringing back Furcal for another go around.

  10. massivedick - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    “Well we have all these PEDs left over from the Poo-Holes era … we needed someone to clean them up.”

  11. rwlsports - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Not much to say but it’s not a great deal for the Cardinals.

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