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Cardinals agree to one-year contract with 2B Mark Ellis

Dec 15, 2013, 12:42 PM EDT

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have reached agreement on a one-year major league contract with free agent second baseman Mark Ellis. The deal is only pending a physical and should be officially announced at some point early this week.

Ellis batted just .270/.323/.351 in 126 games this past season for the Dodgers and he owns a weak .265/.330/.390 career slash line, but the 36-year-old is a very good defensive infielder and will pair well in 2014 with new Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, a first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft and left-handed hitter. The veteran Ellis bats right-handed.

No word yet on the financial terms. Ellis made $5.25 million in 2013 with Los Angeles.

  1. okwhitefalcon - Dec 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    One year deals that provide insurance for unproven commodities with manageable financial exposure while deepening the bench are never a bad idea.

    There’s not much not to like about the Cards off season, another nice move it would seem.

    • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      There is one issue however. If the Cards keep 12 pitchers, Bourjos and Jay as back-up outfielders, Taveras at AAA, and Descalso and Ellis as utility infielders the Cards are really suspect at SS replacement for Peralta. Plus that isn’t exactly a potent bench. Even Robinson would have to be outrighted to Memphis. Kozma could always be called up on short notice, but not for in-game options.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        If the Cards choose to go with eleven pitchers the scenario doesn’t change much. That would mean someone, most likely Sam Freeman doesn’t make the club, and allows the Cards another utility guy, but that probably should be Robinson. Perhaps he can get a lot more reps in Spring Training at third as an emergency insert. But that still leaves the Cards without anybody but Descalso as the immediate SS backup, and that did not play well in 2013.

    • okwhitefalcon - Dec 15, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      I think there’s a distinct possibility Descalso could be the odd man out spud – not Kozma.

      Descalso just doesn’t do anything well really while Koz does offer above average defense.

      I suspect there could be quite a bit of roster juggling regardless (with the key being flexibility) once the season gets in full gear, injuries invariably occur and off days become few and far between.

  2. paperlions - Dec 15, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Ellis is a better hitter vs lefties than righties and he’ll mostly be used against lefties.

    For his career, he has 24 more pts of OBP and 52 more pts of slg versus lefties.

    There is really no reason to keep Descalso around. He is not a plus defender anywhere, and he doesn’t show any platoon splits….he has actually hit worse vs RHP than LHP. He’s useless as a defensive replacement and he’s useless in a platoon. If Kozma’s bat could improve for gaping black hole to only really horrible, he’d be far more useful than Descalso….for whom there are now many season of evidence that he sucks.

    • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Descalso goes nowhere. Besides your biased dislike for the guy, he is also the emergency third catcher, and on a team that almost always carries only two backstops, that is vital. Plus he isn’t nearly as bad as you portray him.

      His defense in 2013, should be viewed as an outlier. He often got a little too quick with his hands and also tries too hard to make the near impossible play. But prior to last season, he was a plus defender everywhere but SS, and Gold Glove worthy in 2011 at third. His arm is as good as anyone in the game, and he is capable of making athletic sparkling plays.

      Offensively he is no wizard but he isn’t poor either, and his power isn’t nugatory. He has a history of being a capable pinch-hitter, and performing better in the late innings. Maybe that can be attributed to randomness, but he isn’t an easy out.

      All that said it is hard to see how the Cards don’t keep Kozma somehow. Peralta does not need to be overworked at his age. Defensive late-inning replacement, and days off are critical to maximize his performance.

      It will be interesting to see how it plays out. It is hard to keep only 11 pitchers early in the season, when starters are asked to throw fewer innings. But with the likes of Maness, Martinez, Kelly/Lynn, or however it shakes out, the Cards do have guys who are capable of being extended beyond one inning.

      • okwhitefalcon - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        Good points spud, I had totally discounted Descalso’s ability to play third (and catch) in emergency.

        Either way, it should be an interesting spring competition for the last roster spots.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        Yeah, Falc, while good problems to have, especially in the pen, no infield, nor outfield choice is easy. It is the old Scylla and Charybis dilemma.

      • paperlions - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        I don’t have a biased dislike of Descalso, I have an information-based dislike for him performance. If anyone has a bias, it is your pro-Descalso bias. Everything I think about his performance is based on facts.

        Descalso’s wRC+ during his career has been 89, 74, and 80. Against RHP he has put up an 80, against LHP an 85. Those numbers are bad. Over the last 3 year 226 players have had at least 1000 PAs. Descalso ranks 211th. What he has proven, is that he is a poor MLB hitter.

        His fielding wasn’t any worse last year than any other year. It just seemed worse because a higher proportion of his innings came at SS. He is and has always been below average at 3B and 2B, but he is horrible at SS.

        If you think it is okay to let Descalso stand at SS, then so could Carpenter or Wong or Ellis. Descalso came up as a below average defensive 3B. Since then he has seen time at 2B and SS primarily because he looks like he should be able to play those positions, but he can’t play them at all. Carpenter, Wong, and Ellis are all much better 2B than Descalso…they could suck at SS just as much as (and probably less than) Descalso, all while hitting better.

      • gibbyfan - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        Spud- If Taveras comes up and does well (a distinct possibility), do you think they will just let Bourjous ride the bench for the season? That’s what I think is going to happen.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        Since Bourjos is right-handed I could see a platoon in order, unless Taveras goes off, but I expect him to stay in AAA until mid-June. It isn’t just his learning curve, but he is recovering from pretty serious ankle surgery, and needs to prove that he is completely recovered. I hope he tears it up in Spring Training, and April and May in AAA and forces the Cards’ hand.

      • paperlions - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        Probably not Gibby, because if healthy Bourjos >> Jay. Similar bat, much better D and base running.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        On a related but other wise other note, Baseball missed an opportunity this past off-season. With every team receiving somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 mil from the new TV deal, it was an ideal time for MLB to enlarge the 25 man roster to 26.

        Since the development of MLB teams bull pens rosters need to be expanded, by at least one guy. If I’m not mistaken last year MLB eclipsed or came within one of all seasons in extra inning games, and I believe that has been the trend.

        It seems silly to force pitchers’ into play in extra innings, when simple adjustments to roster size is so doable, and the financial arguments that teams have made in the past would have a hard time finding sympathetic ears when the teams were flush with the new 25mil.

      • okwhitefalcon - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        Not a chance gibby.

        Two many variables/moving parts to factor in an all encompassing “Bourjos riding the bench all season” scenario.

        Injuries, performance, trades, roster manipulation ect.

        Bourjos is an elite defender and will play a significant role regardless.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        I still insist you have a bias. You pick on him throughout the year. He is your whipping boy. Plus you are just flat out wrong about his defense. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Gold Glove as a third baseman. Now those who make the GG decisions are often swayed by offense, but they are not going to nominate someone who has not performed extra-ordinarily.

        Over and over again, I have agreed with you regarding his play as a SS. But he is the only other infielder the Cards have that could even entertain the idea of SS play. Even Wong would be over matched because he doesn’t possess Descalso’s gun. Neither Ellis nor Carpenter have the skills that translate to SS, and would be poorer choices.

        Descalso also has the disadvantage over the other 268 odd players in that he bats sparingly, which makes timing more difficult. One could subtract about 25 points every major leaguer if they saw similar peripatetic opportunities.

        You often marvel at the Cards player evaluation and development, yet Descalso receives your scorn. He maintains a high Baseball IQ, is cherished by the organization, and would be gone in a flash if left unprotected. He has been an integral part of the Cards success the past three years and I for one hope he can find a spot on the 2014 25 man roster.

      • forsch31 - Dec 15, 2013 at 5:42 PM

        The Gold Gloves have not been a dependable measure for defensive excellence for a long long time, not when Michael Young won for SS in 2008 and David Winfield managed seven–seven!–Gold Gloves when he was a subpar outfielder. Up until last year, no real statistical measure was used in awarding the Gold Gloves, so they were always extremely biased toward type of players and reputations. Also, Descalso’s third-place finish was two seasons ago. Ask David Freese about how much that means.

        And last year, Descalso wasn’t the emergency catcher until Ty Wigginton was released. That’s why Wigginton was the backup catcher when Molina was suspended for one game back in June. It’s a role that’s not exclusive to one player, and Descalso never has actually played any games as catcher in his professional career.

        No, Daniel Descaslo is not a good infielder. He is competent and flexible enough that he makes a good bench player, but it should be noticeable to you that when the Cardinals decided to look for a right-handed option for the bench, the spot they chose to fill was Descalso’s–the second baseman who can play third and short in a pinch. Ellis is both better in the field and at the plate than Descalso (who was god awful last year), and he provides a different look for a line up that is heavy on lefthanders. If push comes to shove, Descalso is expendable.

        And yes, he is well-liked. But so was Skip Schumaker.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        I swear, reading comprehension is a lost art. Everyone knows the GG selections have been subject to offensive influence (as stated), and name recognition. Neither of those would favor Descalso.

        Descalso just turned 27, and his so the likelihood that the defensive woes he exhibited in 2013 were somehow similar to Freese’s declining athleticism makes little sense. Plus closer examination of the types of errors Descalso committed further illustrates (as I stated) that they were due to factors unrelated to aging.

        How the Wigginton assertion is relevant is a mystery to me. Descalso was the emergency catcher prior to Wigginton’s addition, and after his release. And as far as I know he will be again in 2014 if he is part of the 25 man roster. Most emergency catchers haven’t played the position. I was always the emergency catcher at every level of Baseball that I can remember and except for my senior year in college, was never called upon to exercise that option to any degree. But that does not mean it is meaningless, and unless St. Louis entertains the idea that someone else can handle that responsibility it will become part of the decision-making come roster selection time.

        Descalso, is also odd in that he played almost no other position in his minor league career than second base. Only a handful of games at 3B and SS. Until 2013. his play at second base was better than average. Not good, not very good, but competent. And he possesses
        an outstanding throwing arm, that allows him to play other positions. His 2011 play at third base is even more remarkable cause he hadn’t done it in years, and performed so superbly.
        (cont.)

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        Over, and over, and over (I have stated) that asking Descalso to play SS is a disservice to him, and testimony to his willingness to do anything to help the club. His arm again is the only reason he is called on occupy that spot when no one else can. Mark Ellis cannot be moved to SS. He doesn’t have the arm strength, and the last time he was inserted was in 2005, for a few games and he performed miserably. Only Kozma is better as a Peralta back-up than Descalso, and that is troubling.

        And the signing of Ellis had next to nothing to do with Descalso being left handed, and everything to do with Carpenter and Wong being left-handed. Ellis is a better defender than Descalso, but has none of his flexibility. And let’s be clear, Ellis isn’t much better than Descalso with the stick. But he hits lefties considerably better, so fits into the Cards’ needs there.

        It is likely that Descalso will be the man out, unless the Cards carry fewer pitchers than normal. The Peralta acquisition creates a back-up need at SS. He cannot play there every day, and defense prevails when making second string choices, especially when one considers late inning replacement for him. And I guess he would be the option if Carpenter needed replacement at third.

        And lastly I could care less if he was well liked. What I said is that he was cherished by the organization, who fast tracked him to the Bigs, maintains a great work ethic, high Baseball IQ, and has shown the ability to adapt to difficult assignments. If he is the odd man out, the Red Bird brass will do everything they can to protect him, cause they know how valuable he can be.

  3. metalhead65 - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    walt jocketty has penciled him as the reds starting second baseman in 2015 after he completes his requirement of having played at least 1 year for the cardinals.

    • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      Still time to sign Axford and Boggs.

      • metalhead65 - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        look for it around spring training,those guys are still relatively young and he has not finished his search of assisted living facilities first to find the veterans he is so fond of.

    • jvandever007 - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      Yup a 2 year 12 million dollar deal

      • metalhead65 - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        the sad thing is it will not be a shock when he does it.

  4. gibbyfan - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Don’t know the terms yet but I can’t believe theCards were able to get this guy for just 1 year…especially with the Ynaks deperate for a second baseman…….Mo has that magic working.

    • paperlions - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Agreed. I thought any hold up would be him wanting something like $10M/2.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        Plus now we can steal even more signs from the Dodgers.

      • paperlions - Dec 15, 2013 at 7:31 PM

        Yeah, that is an area in which they need to improve. Especially considering how poorly they hit against LA that series.

      • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        Did you not read about the recent Mattingly comment?

      • paperlions - Dec 15, 2013 at 8:52 PM

        Yeah, I did. Pure silliness.

      • paperlions - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:12 AM

        You know. I probably would like Descalso more if somehow people had started calling him “Shoeless Dan”. Honestly, I have no idea how this did not happen.

    • forsch31 - Dec 15, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      The Cardinals have some payroll flexibility this year; it’s one of the reasons why they front-loaded Peralta’s contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if they overpaid a bit to get the player they wanted.

      • gibbyfan - Dec 15, 2013 at 7:56 PM

        No question about it Forsch………..Mo said that he knew he was going to have to overpay to fill the slot………it was lotto time for Perralta because simply of supply and demand

    • yournuts - Dec 15, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      I don’t think that the Yankees had Mark Ellis on their radar. I really don’t think that the Yankees are desperate for a second baseman yet. If they were they would have signed Infante but they passed on him. They have something else in mind, Kelly Johnson will be a good fit for them on a temporary basis in the meantime.

  5. okwhitefalcon - Dec 15, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Bright siding it guys, we’re discussing “back up” SS options and “end of the bench” roster spot(s).

    It’s not the worst problem to have going into spring training.

    • spudchukar - Dec 15, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      How true. The Yankees currently have no second baseman, or third baseman, or #5 starter, or arguably no #4 starter, and no closer unless Robertson gets the nod, and then they don’t have a quality set-up guy.

      I don’t like gloating but the overload of talent is almost embarrassing.

      • gibbyfan - Dec 15, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        Couldn’t happen to a better organization…………..the rich kids on the block have accomplished an incredible feat…..being too inept to field a winner despite big $$$, outdone in this regard only by the Angels, who have been rightfully cursed for stealing Albert with ‘stupid money’……….and BTW–when it comes to those teams, I do like to gloat.

    • wlschneider09 - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      Seriously. You just got a usable piece for less than we gave Mike f’n Pelfrey. Much less.

  6. gibbyfan - Dec 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    I’m totally optomistic on the Cards this year—even if Perralta were to go down to injury —Cards are strong enough to get back to the PS with Kozma —I see KW doing fine a second (if Mo believes in him –that’s good enough for me)…..But –I see the outfield as very possibly set early with Holiday Craig and Taveras………..Spud I know he was hurt but from what I read he is on schedule for spring training………I just dont see him heading for AAA again…..
    My big worry is not getting tho the PS it’s getting past the Dodgers with all that talent and $$ to burn…….but even there we have a little edge as apparently we do better against CK than just about anyone else.

  7. spc7ray - Dec 15, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    I wanted him to stay with the Dodgers–A very class player and guy–period–The Dodgers should have kept him–Good luck to Mr Ellis–just don’t play against us

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