Wednesday, November 30, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

It appears that Walt Jocketty is very serious about acquiring AJ Burnett. There was an article on the Cardinals website about a trip Jocketty and LaRussa made to Florida to speak face to face with Burnett. According to mlbrumors.com the Cardinals and Blue Jays are the leading contenders to land the services of Burnett. Clearly the Jays have more money to throw at AJ, but the Cardinals main selling points are of course the opportunity to pitch for a strong World Series contender, and the opportunity for him to pitch for his favorite team growing up in Arkansas. The money would be more in Toronto, but another selling point in this whole deal is the extra taxes he would have to pay playing in Canada. The question remains though does he want a legit chance to win with his favorite team, or does he want more money? I am not too optimistic, we always seem to lose out to the almighty dollar. We shall see.

Predicting a move by Walt Jocketty is very difficult because sometimes I think he leaks information about his interest in certain players to cover up his real interest in going a totally different direction. Not to mention the fact that their success at signing free agents who have never played in St. Louis is not too good, atleast big name guys. Once we get them here though, most choose to stay and usually stay for less money (Pujols, Rolen, and McGwire to name a few), Edgar Renteria being the exception.

Another serious rumor has the Cardinals sending Jason Marquis, Anthony Reyes and a minor leaguer to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu. My prayer is there is some truth to this rumor. Although I would hate to see Reyes go because I think he has tremendous upside, the thought of having Abreu's .300 avg, 25-30 hr, and 30-40 stolen bases in the lineup in front of the reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols is very interesting. He would fit in great in RF and would look awesome in a Cardinal uniform, but I will believe it when I see it.

Other rumors include the same package of players to the Reds for Ken Griffey Jr. The Cardinals I guess feel that Griffey would thrive in a corner outfield spot and that it would be easier to stay healthy there. As I pray for the Abreu trade, I pray we don't go this route - that's all we need another aging over paid outfielder.

Jim Edmonds to the Yankees for Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang, but we're already short two outfielders so why trade the only decent outfielder we already got? A list of minor leaugers to the Marlins for Luis Castillo. This trade rumor might have some legitimacy because of the Marlins fire sale so the Cardinals might be able to take advantage and pick up a much needed gold glove second baseman who can hit lead off, this would be a good move in my opinion.


All in all I think if we can convince Burnett to take less money and come to St. Louis, then that leaves Marquis expendable and we could package him and hopefully Adam Wainright instead of Reyes to the Phillies for Abreu, and then pull the trigger on the Castillo trade and that leaves the Cardinals looking pretty good to repeat as Central Division Champions for the 6th time in 7 years.

We shall see...

ON ANOTHER NOTE...

The Illini got a big win last night in their first true road test in Chapel Hill over the Tar Heels. I will grant Mike the point that we beat a very young UNC, but still very talented. I think by the end of the season the Tar Heels will be very good, and that win last night will look good on the resume come tournament time.

I must confess that that win last night was a sweet payback for the National Championship game last year. Although nothing makes up totally for losing the title game, it still was nice to beat them this year though. Mike may call me a homer but I truly feel that the better team lost last year. In the Champioship game we got diddly squat from Augustine and that was the difference in a close game. If we had just gotten Augustine's average 10 points and 8 or 9 boards that would have made the difference last April. If the National Champioship was decided by a 7 game series like the NBA, I think we win in 6 games, but unfortuantely for Illini Nation it is decided by one single game, and Augustine picked the biggest game of the year to play his worst. With all that we still were in a tie game with under a minute to go, and a Luther Head shot for the lead. We get anything from Augustine and we win, it didn't happen in April, but this ain't April and last night was a little sweet revenge.

Now we look to the rest of the non conference schedule and there is a possibility of being undefeated again when the Big 10 season starts. We have a tough road game at Oregon, Georgetown at home, Xavier in the United Center, and of course the Busch Braggin Rights game against Missouri which is always a tough game, as the tough challenges down the stretch in the non conference season. If we can handle these four games I like our chances of being undefeated when the Big 10 season starts with the hated Spartans coming to the Hall, but that don't mean jack because any team can be beaten on any given night.

I think we need to find a guard to handle the ball and let Dee Brown play the role he had last year. No one in college basketball can keep up with Dee Brown, and I mean no one. I think having him handle the ball is taking him out of his game. We need someone to handle the ball, like Deron Williams last year. Granted, we don't have a player as good as Williams, but at least handle the ball and let Dee run around and find open shots. I really think we are better inside this year than we were last year, and you match that with a decent ball handler and Dee Brown running around creating havoc, and it could be another special season for the Illini.

Now I hate to say this but it's time to pull for the Hoosiers and Fartans tonight because I'm getting sick of the ACC thinking they are the best conference, it's time for the Big 10 to win one of these challenges.