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Cardinals Likely to Hire Chris Antonetti

Indians assistant GM Chris Antonetti met with the Cardinals' team president yesterday. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch employee calls Antonetti the frontrunner and writes:

Has he been offered the gig? Not sure. I think so. But not sure. If offered, will he take it? Again, I think so - but only Mr. Antonetti knows that. But someone I spoke to today who knows him says Antonetti is excited about the opportunity. He likes Luhnow's approach, has no problem with it, because Luhnow's approach to player evaluation is keyed in with Antonetti's own system and philosophy. He is good with La Russa. No problem there.

The way it was explained to me was, simply: it's the Cardinals. One of the most storied franchises in professional sports, and a team that wants to win while incorporating a more modern approach. You're a 33-yr old assistant GM who has been waiting for a shot. If the Cardinals tap you on the shoulder, how can you say no? I guess Antonetti could say no. I don't know when a better job will come along, though.

Viva El Birdos (which is, yes, a blog, but a responsible one) says that while the "i"s still need to be dotted, this is a done deal.

Man, just when I was getting excited about having a good new GM and the Reds and Astros flushing themselves down the toilet, this comes along. Antonetti is the best GM prospect in baseball, and I wanted him for the Pittsburgh job.

The Cardinals have obviously been far better run than the Pirates over the past 15 years, and St. Louis is really a great franchise, but personally, I don't know if I'd want that job if I were Antonetti, because he's going to have to do some unpopular things. That organization really needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. They have an aging core and a ton of money invested in players who aren't going to help them much - by my count, they've got almost $50 million in guaranteed 2008 payroll invested in Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, Juan Encarnacion, and Adam Kennedy.

The Cardinals' new GM probably isn't going to be very popular in 2008 and possibly also in 2009. But if Antonetti takes the job and can last through those first two years, he should make the Cardinals very tough in the next decade. This is a superb hire by St. Louis, if it happens.