Third baseman David Freese,
recovering from surgeries on both ankles last year, won't be ready to play
exhibition games when the spring schedule begins, and his debut very tentatively
is targeted by club officials to be during the second week of Grapefruit League
General manager John Mozeliak has
said that the team is shooting for Freese to be the starter on Opening Day, but
there certainly is no guarantee how many games Freese might be able to play this
season. Surely, he will not be burdened by a stretch of consecutive games early
in the season, enhancing the possibility of switch-hitting Nick Punto or
right-handed hitting Tyler Greene taking some time at third. Another possibility
is Allen Craig, a former third baseman who was converted to the outfield because
club officials weren't thrilled with his throwing mechanics.
However, although the Cardinals
have insurance for Freese, they really do not have another potential regular
third baseman in house. Still, they aren't likely to go outside the organization
to acquire one, having more or less maxed out their payroll -- at least for the
If healthy, Freese, a .296 hitter
in 240 at-bats last year, figures to hit sixth or seventh in the lineup. If he
hits sixth, that would put him in an enviable RBI spot behind Nos. 3-4-5 Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, all of whom could have high on-base
The addition of Punto might well
mean that left-handed hitting infielder Daniel Descalso, who had a four-hit game
last September, is headed for Class AAA Memphis at the start of the season.
Punto and Greene appear to have a considerable edge as backup infielders on the
As far as their third baseman of
the future, the Cardinals will be closely watching top draft pick Zack Cox, who
will begin his first full season this year after coming out of the
Arkansas. Cox, who also has
played second base, projects not so much as a power hitter but a line-drive
hitter with gap power. A member of the 40-man roster, Cox will get some at-bats
early in the spring before being sent out.
--1B/OF Jim Edmonds is returning
to the Cardinals. He was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to
spring training and will get a chance, at age 40, to show whether he has
anything left. He didn't play in 2009 but hit .276 for the Brewers and Reds last
year. He hit 241 home runs while playing for the Cardinals from 2000 to
--LHP Jaime Garcia, the club's top
rookie last year and one of the best starters in the league, is expected to take
on more of a workload this year. Garcia, who had Tommy John elbow surgery late
in 2008, was not extended last year and then was shut down because he had some
arm fatigue late in the season. Though a 13-game winner, he averaged fewer than
six innings per start.
--RHP Lance Lynn, a supplemental
pick in the 2008 draft, is expected to get a long look this spring as a
potential No. 6 starter before he returns to Class AAA Memphis. Lynn, a
6-foot-5-, 250-pounder from the University of Mississippi, was 13-10 at Memphis last year and was
said to have improved his velocity.
--OF Allen Craig, who used to play
third base but was moved off it because of throwing issues, will find himself
taking plenty of grounders there this spring, with third base coach Jose
Oquendo, one of the club's infield instructors, paying particular attention. If
Craig hits, the club will have to find a place to play
--OF Jon Jay, a .300 hitter as a
rookie, probably will have his playing time cut with the signing of free agent
OF Lance Berkman. Jay was a pleasant surprise last year, hitting .383 before the
trading deadline. But after RF Ryan Ludwick was dealt to San Diego, Jay, seeing
more regular duty, batted just .244 over the final two months of the
season. His place on the team seems
relatively secure, however, because he plays all three outfield positions.
--INF Pete Kozma, the team's top
pick in the 2007 draft, will be on his first 40-man roster this spring. Kozma
showed power at Class AA Springfield (Mo.), hitting 13 homers and driving in 72 runs
last year, but hit only .243. That last figure also is Kozma's minor league
career average for four seasons.
--All was quiet on the Albert
Pujols contract front. The Pujols camp had set a deadline for the start of
spring training (Feb. 19 for the regulars) as a date when negotiations would
cease until after the season if there had been no agreement on a multi-year
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Wins for
often injured RHP Kyle Lohse over the last two seasons after he won 15 games in
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The bottom line is
I didn't have a good year, the year that I wanted to have. The first half was
bad, so I figured something might happen. I'm glad they're giving me another
shot." -- 2B Skip Schumaker, who hit .265 last year after .302 and .303 seasons
the previous two years.
The Cardinals entered the
offseason with one of the best core groups in baseball: 1B Albert Pujols, LF
Matt Holliday, RHPs Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and Gold Glove C Yadier Molina. They have tried to upgrade the supporting cast, particularly by signing
outfielder Lance Berkman.
ARRIVALS: C Gerald Laird (free
agent from Tigers), RF Lance Berkman (free agent from Yankees), LHP Brian Tallet
(free agent from Blue Jays), SS Ryan Theriot (trade with Dodgers), RHP Miguel Batista (free agent from Nationals), RHP Ian Snell (free agent from Mariners),
INF Ramon Vazquez (minor league free agent from Astros), INF Nick Punto (free
agent from Twins), 1B/OF Jim Edmonds (minor league free agent from
DEPARTURES: INF Brendan Ryan
(traded to Mariners), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent, signed with Phillies), RHP
Blake Hawksworth (traded to Dodgers), RHP Brad Penny (free agent, signed with
Tigers), RHP Jeff Suppan (free agent, signed minor league contract with Giants),
RHP Mike MacDougal (free agent, signed minor league deal with Dodgers), 3B Pedro Feliz (free agent, signed minor league deal with Royals), OF Randy Winn (free
agent, signed minor league deal with Orioles), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent,
signed minor league deal with Red Sox).
FREE AGENTS: INF Aaron Miles.
--3B David Freese (right ankle
surgery in August 2010, left ankle surgery in September 2010) should be ready
for spring training.
--LHP Jaime Garcia (left arm
fatigue), RHP Adam Wainwright (right forearm strain) and C Yadier Molina (right
knee inflammation) all were shut down at the end of the season. All are expected
to be ready for spring training.