Oakland had the Bash Brothers in Canseco and McGwire; the 2004 Cardinals briefly borrowed the “Murderer’s Row” moniker with Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds (eventually evolving into “MV3” after all 3 made a run in subsequent MVP voting); and now the 2010 Cardinals have themselves a new nickname – The Memphis Mafia Hitmen. In case you’re wondering, “the family” consists of just three members – Allen “The Cat” Craig, Joey “Bombs” Mather, and Nick “The Stick” Stavinhoa – all of which will be filling out the 2010 bench for the big league club.
Assuming this is not some grand April Fool’s Day joke (from a news perspective, I’ve come to hate April Fool’s Day…can’t trust anything in the news), Joe Strauss is reporting a deal that would send Julio Lugo to the Baltimore Orioles just 4 days before Opening Day (CLICK HERE FOR JOE’S STORY). I gotta’ say…I called that.
Those of you who read my blog will remember a certain Opening Day Roster Prediction I posted (CLICK HERE FOR MARCH 4TH PREDICTION)which included the following statements:
Who is on the bubble?
Julio Lugo. The guy is just extraneous at this point – and I get the impression he won’t be happy with it once the season starts. Look for him to be traded or flat-out released sooner rather than later.
What could still happen?
Well…a lot could still happen, but specifically look for a way for Hawksworth to be in the ‘pen. If this does happen, Lugo may be the casuality. Tony could decide to carry an extra pitcher and just ditch his extra utility guy. Or Lugo could get traded and bring about the same result.
It’s worth noting my original roster prediction also had all three guys (Mather, Craig, and Stavinoha) on the Opening Day roster – even though most said it couldn’t be done.
A couple weeks later, I posted some thoughts on the developing Nick Stavinoha situation (CLICK HERE FOR THE MARCH 18TH STAVINOHA POST). The guy was getting it done, but we had no where to put him. Again, some of you may remember the following:
Look…Lopez has made Lugo obsolete. As long as we view Lugo as a backup option at short and second base, we’re carrying too many infield utility men. With Lugo, we’re looking at a rotating infield of Freese, Lopez, Lugo, Ryan, Schumaker, and most likely Mather…all for 3 positions that will more than likely have a designated starter. How ’bout we start viewing Lopez as our primary backup option at second, short, and third and move Mather more prominently into the third base backup discussion? Against lefties, leave Freese at third, play Mather at center, and slot Lopez at second. Hell…in a pinch, Craig can play third as well. The guy’s not great, but he’s played there for years. He can’t be THAT bad (and I watched him for a couple of them at AA ball). All of this opens a slot for a corner outfielder/pinch hitter like Stavinoha. So what does it come down to? Lugo. The man is hindering the roster. I like what he did last year, but that ain’t this year. We need to trade him and eliminate the log jam at the utility infield position.
And finally, today we get the following from Strauss’ report on Stltoday.com regarding the Lugo deal:
The deal creates an avenue for the Cardinals to retain all three contenders for what was previously believed to be two outfield spots. Craig and Mather have experience at third base while Lopez is considered an option at second base, third and shortstop. Lopez’ deal is guaranteed for only $1 million but also includes $1.2 million in incentives based on plate appearances. Today’s move clears the way for him to achieve more of those incentives.
I hate to say it (okay, not really)…but I TOLD YA’ SO!!!
Yeah, I know…I’ve missed on a few predictions (the club doing a 180 on Jaime starting and Ottavino making the ‘pen to name a couple – although, to be fair, Ottavino’s run at the roster was kinda’ the point of my prediction…right? no? damn)…but I got this one! Well…assuming we didn’t trade him for left-handed bench power – which is highly doubtful. If so, the Orioles made a bad deal.
Anyway, as it looks right now, the club has found a way to place Mather, Craig, AND Stavinoha on the roster. I couldn’t be happier. Oh…and congratulations to Nick “The Stick” Stavinoha. You earned it.
(P.S. Sorry I missed the UCB projects this week, Daniel. Had a distraction pop up early this week…but I’m back now!!!)