The St. Louis Cardinals should be no more interested in Coco than they were in Ryan Madson, his newly anointed Cincinnati Reds replacement, but if the MLB rumor mill is going to continue to connect them with every last right-handed reliever available Francisco Cordero remains the only name-brand option still on the board. And with the Reds taking the younger, better Madson for one year and less than $10 million, Cordero finds himself squeezed both in terms of market value and remaining bidders as Spring Training looms.
Looking at the back of Cordero's baseball card, nothing appears amiss as he enters his age-37 season; last year he saved 37 games with an ERA of 2.45. At 327 career saves with the Reds, Rangers, and Brewers he's second only to Mariano Rivera among active relievers, and he's three more years removed from being the sixth player ever to reach 400 saves.
But even a cursory look at his peripherals suggests all isn't well. Cordero's strikeout rate has slide from an extended peak over 10 per nine innings to just 5.4 in 2011, and although that also came with a newly sedate walk rate and his usual ability to keep home runs off the board it's a bad sign for an aging closer with the usual closer repertoire. On a one-year deal Cordero's unlikely to pitch badly enough to lose whichever job he gets, but he's equally unlikely to provide the value any team—including the Cardinals—thinks they're paying for.