In terms of the future of the franchise, Rasmus>La Russa. The impact of a manager hasn’t been something I’ve seen nerds really be able to penetrate; it’s something that is made murky by secondary factors and the human element.  If you follow me on Twitter, you probably have come to conclusion that  I would like to roll La Russa up in a carpet and throw him off of a bridge.

I honestly don’t believe he’s a bad manager, as he didn’t get his reputation as a Hall of Fame manager for no good reason at all. But I do tend to think that his overall value to the team is greatly inflated in the minds of pundits and fans (thanks, Buzz!). What irks me is all silly personality clashes with players, the need to use his favorite pets, and his odd machinations and weird lineup cards.

The rub is that as La Russa goes, so might Pujols go. The Mang must be appeased because we need the Mang to stay in St. Louis. The Mang likes Tony. The Mang doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t like Tony. Therefore Rasmus must go.

It’s completely stupid, but you get the feeling that despite the public hugging-it-out we’ve read about between Colby and La Russa in the press the past few days, we’re going to read about Colby being jettisoned away some cold January morning if La Russa comes back for another season. And that thought is very depressing.

So to brace myself for the pain of witnessing my all-time favorite Faberge egg being moved, I am going to play this scenario out and then go back to soothing myself with false comforts that all is going to be well between the Raz and the Genius.

Using Sky Kalkman’s Trade Value Calculator, here’s what I conservatively (?) estimated Rasmus’ surplus value as. The Raz has averaged 3.5 WAR per 625 plate appearances. (Hint: Give him 600+ PA’s per season, then everyone is happy.)

What kind of a player could Rasmus fetch? The club isn’t in the place to trade him for a player making more than Rasmus, so we’re talking about trading prospects. Prospect surplus value has been studied by Victor Wang, and then smoothed out by this quick study based on some discussions with Matt Swartz. Click the link, eyeball the tables.

In a straight value for value trade, Rasmus could bring the Cardinals anything outside of a top ten hitting prospect.  The problem is, as Jayson Stark has pointed out, is that if a team perceives the Cardinals have to move Rasmus, they’ll only be willing to pay 60 cents on the dollar. That might get the Cardinals one really good pitching prospect. That may mean a Shelby Miller-type if the Cardinals were willing to wait, but given the Cardinals’ needs, someone closer to the majors and more polished makes a lot more sense. I’m not going to speculate about who that might be, but here is BA’s mid-season Top 50 for your perusal. I’m sure a lot has changed since it was published, but it gives you some ideas.

Moving Rasmus also leaves a big, gaping hole in the OF. No more fire burning in the outfield. :_(

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find a happy place.

Takeaways: Personality clashes are dumb. Rasmus is good. The team could get a good player for Rasmus, but probably not a player as good as Rasmus. Also, personality clashes are dumb.

I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard the rumors by now – Mozeliak loves Roy,  Roy loves the Cardinals and the only thing that stands between the two getting together is this man:

The General Manager of the #30 org

No doubt that man wants our favorite Faberge egg, Shelby Miller. There’s a reason Shelby causes hyperventilation to exposes prospect geeks, but let’s face it – players of his ilk frequently flame out and few reach their potential.

Roy Oswalt is about as sure of a thing as you can find as far as 32-year-old pitchers go. The rub is that he’s extremely expensive. Including this season and next, he’s owed about $27 million dollars, and he may or may not want whatever team that acquires his services to guarantee his $15 million option for 2012, depending on who you listen to. For a team that is trying to re-sign the best player in baseball, finding a way to fit in Oswalt’s contact could take financial finagling, or some supernatural assistance.

So is this deal worth doing?

According to studies, pitchers of Miller’s prospect status on average give their teams $20 million worth of production above their salary during their cost-controlled years, that is their first 6 years before they’re eligible to hit the open market. Miller is a very valuable commodity.

What kind of trade value does Roy Oswalt offer? Given his salary, pretty much nada. Using Sky Kalkman’s User-Friendly Trade Value Calculator, here’s what I get for Roy-O.

If Oswalt forgoes his demand for his option to be picked up, then his value goes up about a million. Not a big difference. Included in his worth is free agent compensation in the draft, but that’s only if the Cardinals were to offer him arbitration.

So Oswalt’s bloated contract sucks away a lot of his trade value. $20 million > $1 mil. So Shelby Miller for Oswalt on paper is a pretty lopsided deal for Houston, and we don’t need Ed Wade to start to feel good about himself. Houston really needs the salary relief – they should be willing to take Eduardo Sánchez and maybe Jon Jay and be plenty thankful for it. I think Moz knows this and that’s why nothing has been done yet. That, or Wade is hoping Ruben Amaro loses is mind and trumps the Cardinals’ offer of Miller.

Remember too that we need to include the boost in the team’s playoff chances that Oswalt would add to the Cardinals in this equation. The Reds don’t seem to be going away, at least not yet. And we can be sure that Jocketty is trolling the market to find some help. I would guess the increase in playoff odds being worth another $5 million or so. Perhaps Steve can chime in on this, he knows more about that than I do.

Sorry to get all nerdy on you; getting down to brass tacks: If the Cardinals are willing to part with Miller, they should probably do better than Roy Oswalt, unless Houston is willing to eat some salary.

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