Recently, Tony LaRussa made some waves in the space where a team's closer is important. He said former Card's ace, Chris Carpenter. Now the St. Louis Dispatch reports the team is looking to offer one of it's surplus outfielders for a power, closer-type bullpen arm. The paper also relays that LaRussa is also open to converting a veteran starter to the closer role.
Man, the Cardinals seem to really be intent on sending the message to second-year relievers Chris Perez and Jason Motte that they are not going to close. More kindly, neither will be given a glamor job without earning it. I can slightly understand that, but at what point are these public statements too much?
As for the surplus outfielders, here are the players to watch: Skip Schumaker, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick, Brian Barton and Chris Duncan. Amongst these, Ryan Ludwick would probably bring the best power arm with Brian Barton and Skip Schumaker fetching more of a closer project despite neither being arbitration eligible. In between is Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan.
The question is which bullpen arms/veteran starters who could close are available for an outfielder. My guess is Chris Carpenter closes for the Cardinals. However, that is a cop-out. I should at least try to name a fit or two.
1. San Diego Padres' Heath Bell for Brian Barton: The Padres are in fire sale mode, the 31-year-old Bell enters arbitration this winter, and the 26-year-old Barton can play centerfield. This makes better sense with Ryan Ludwick, but he is also a 1st-year arbitration player.
2. Seattle Mariners' Miguel Batista and Aaron Heilman for Ryan Ludwick and Chris Duncan: What is worse? The Mariners' bullpen or the team's outfield power? My guess is new GM Jack Zduriencik will decide to take the power combo over two bullpen arms.
3. Washington Nationals' Jack Hanrahan for....: Can anyone imagine Nationals' GM Jim Bowden hearing outfielders are available and not trying to acquire one?
Actually, this morning's SLD reports Cardinals' GM John Mozeliak has prioritized dealing for a starting pitcher and letting Chris Perez and Jason Motte handle late inning duties despite manager Tony LaRussa's misgivings.