Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter meeting roundup: McGwire has integrity

Here's what happened with the Rule 5 draft today. Luis Perdomo was taken during round 5 by the San Francisco Giants.
The righthanded reliever the St. Louis Cardinals received in the Anthony Reyes trade with Cleveland was selected in the Rule 5 draft this morning by the San Francisco Giants. Luis Perdomo will be added to the Giants’ 40-man roster and taken to spring training where he will have the opportunity to make the major-league 25-man roster. He must be on that roster all season or be offered back to the Cardinals before he can be sent to the minors.

Perdomo was a likely loss after the Cardinals elected not to protect him from the draft by putting him on their 40-man roster. The players the Cardinals did protect were SS Tyler Greene and RHP Matt Scherer.
Adam Kennedy and Colby Rasmus are back in favor with Tony La Russa.
Kennedy "just wants to play," La Russa said. "I think it was a mutual respect thing. I thought he handled himself really well the times he didn't play. He ended up on a plus note."

For Rasmus, La Russa heaped on the praise.

"This guy has a chance to be an impact, everyday outfielder," La Russa said. "He has a chance to be a very special package."

After several offseasons of stumping for a cleanup hitter — a request he echoed toward the end of this past season — La Russa acknowledged that the priority right now should be pitching. He's content with the lineup that's in place since the addition of shortstop Khalil Greene. Yes, he plans to hit the pitcher eighth again in 2009, but Greene hitting in the No. 6 spot or lower has the potential to add run-producing depth to the lineup, La Russa said.

He added that outfielder Chris Duncan is "feeling great" as he recovers from surgery to repair a herniated disc and that Duncan shouldn't be slowed at all entering spring training. The manager said Duncan will be ready for the throng of outfielders the Cardinals have vying for jobs, citing five besides Duncan: Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker — the incumbent starters — and rookies Joe Mather and Rasmus.

Inviting Kennedy back into the flock is as simple as assuring him playing time. Kennedy has told the Post-Dispatch he is warm to a return to the Cardinals if he has a legitimate shot at starting. La Russa said he hasn't reached out to Kennedy personally.
Tony also said that Mark McGwire belongs in the Hall of Fame. With his numbers, he most certainly does.
Given the chance to celebrate and comment on Rickey Henderson’s appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa also seized the opportunity to stump for another dynamo member of his Oakland Athletics teams who will be on the ballot.

On his third try, Mark McGwire belongs in the Hall of Fame, La Russa believes.

It’s a matter a of “integrity.”

“This steroid issue, that’s a matter of integrity, right?” La Russa said. “That’s one way to describe it, right? Well, it occurred to me, I know that I’ve never spoken much about it at all, but this guy did something that screams integrity. … How many guys do we know that had a contract like he had? He had a contract in his hand for $15 million over two years, and he walked away from it because he didn’t feel like he could play to that level. That, to me, there’s a certain integrity for the sport, for self-respect and everything.”[...]

La Russa: Now, our guess, and people that I’ve talked to, our guess is that a whole lot of guys, just being normal, would be figured some way to either talk to the organization, like let’s get a buyout, give me $5 million instead of $30 million, whatever it is, or go ahead and play less than their best and collect a check for two years. He walked away from two years of $30 million, and I thought to myself when I told this one writer, ‘Man, I think that speaks to the public or the voters about his integrity.’

You’ve got to be a pretty solid character guy … Am I reading that wrong? Do you think that’s a good sign of character, that you would walk away from $30 million if you didn’t think you could play to that level? How would you take that decision and not make sense of it.

Reporter. I’m not sure that you’re comparing apples to apples.

La Russa: So how would you describe a guy that walks away from $30 million?

Reporter. I’m agreeing with you that that’s a sign of character, not to have a debate that’s going to be transcribed here. This isn’t the place. I would agree that that’s a sign of integrity. But I think we all do things that show integrity in one side of our life and make questionable moves on another parallel track.

La Russa: I’m just saying that the fact that he walked away from that money has been an under-discussed, under-publicized — I know I have not discussed it, and I think that is a hellacious sign of the type of person he is, and that should translate into knowing that he’s a special guy. I just never talked about it. I thought I had the chance so I’d mention it.

Reporter. So you’d consider it as an intangible for his Hall of Fame?

La Russa: Yeah, he’s got this cloud over him.

Reporter. Character is an issue (on the ballot).

La Russa: So I think that showed great character because there’s not many guys that I know that wouldn’t have said, ‘I’ll just stumble along and take those checks.’

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