Who Won't Be in the Cardinals' Starting Rotation in '08?

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Hold on to your questionable substance-stained hat, Redbirds fans, but Boston Red Sox reliever Julian Tavarez is on the market -- and he wantsta be a starting pitcher!


So sayeth blogger Dan Lamothe on Red Sox Monster.

Lamothe's sources are this Hartford Courant piece about trade rumors involving soon-to-be-ex-Minnesota Twins pitcher Johan Santana and this "Hot Stove Report" item on mlb.com.

The former give zero details, the latter quotes Red Sox GM Theo Epstein:

"He's been asked about by a few teams," Epstein said. "I think interest will probably crystallize more once some of the comparable free agents are off the board. He's attractive to some teams. He's on a one-year deal, he's durable, versatile and threw well when we gave him a consistent role last year."

Cards fans remember Tavarez from his tumultuous two-year tenure here in the bullpen, during which he pitched well and durably but did nothing to live down his reputation as a hotheaded loonbag. There was, of course, the great pine tar grime ejection suspension of 2004.

And who could forget the day later that same year when Tavarez aimed a pitch behind the head of Hall of Fame-bound Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell during Game 4 of the National League Championship Series? That gesture earned J-Tav a $15,000 fine from MLB -- but not before it inspired him to break his own hand in a dugout tantrum.

Tavarez took his act to Boston in 2006. The past two years didn't burnish his stat line; his ERA ballooned to 4.47 in '06 and 5.15 in '07. He kept up the loonbag end of the bargain, however, getting himself suspended for ten days in 2006 after a brawl with Tampa Bay center fielder Joey Gathright.

Of course, you might say Tavarez is mellowing. His antics with the Cards and Sox don't hold a candle to his twin bill in a Cubs uniform: In 2001 he was fined, suspended and ordered to enroll in a sensitivity-training course for taking a flying kick at San Francisco Giants third sacker Russ Davis during a preseason game. For an encore, Tavarez got himself ordered back to sensitivity training when he referred to Giants fans as fags after a game in San Francisco.


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