In Albert Pujols' 11 seasons in
But now the Cardinals start a new chapter with Pujols having jumped to the Los Angeles Angels via a 10-year contract. The Cardinals also had offered 10 years but for not nearly as much money as the reported $254 million the Angels shelled out.
What it meant initially
was that Lance Berkman was the first baseman. Who would be the right fielder to
replace Berkman was open to question, with valuable infielder/outfielder Allen Craig to be sidelined four to six months after knee surgery. Craig had suffered
a broken kneecap last June 7 when he slid into a wall in
"I would like our fans to know that we tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal, but unfortunately we were unable to make it happen," said Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.
General manager John Mozeliak, echoing that sentiment, said, "We feel good about the effort made toward retaining Albert. We tried to make it work a couple different ways. Ultimately, he chose a different direction. But I'm comfortable with how we went about it."
The Cardinals' modified proposal was believed to be worth a potential $210 million for up to 10 years, with nine years guaranteed. That wasn't really any higher than the nine-year, $198 million offer rejected by Pujols before last spring training. Pujols refused to discuss an extension during the season.
Pujols' numbers in most offensive categories are on a three-year decline, but he remains one of the game's elite players. In 2011 he hit 37 home runs and batted .299 while helping the Cardinals to their 11th World Series title.
SS Rafael Furcal will reportedly rejoin the Cardinals after signing a two-year deal.
Furcal, who joined the defending World Series champs last season after coming over in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers, will just need to pass his physical and the deal will be done, sources told ESPN.com.
The 34-year-old shortstop is a career .282 hitter, who batted .255 in 50 games for the Cardinals last season.
A two-time all-star and former Rookie of the Year, Furcal will have to recover from a recent appendectomy, according to reports, but was expected to be ready next spring.
Furcal hit just .194 last October in the postseason for the Cardinals.
INF/OF Allen Craig had
surgery on his right knee a week before Thanksgiving, and the club is prepared
for the possibility that he won't be available for Opening Day and perhaps a
month beyond. Craig, a World Series hero with three home runs and a couple of
other big hits, had two screws placed in his right kneecap to repair the damage
done when he crashed into a fence at Houston's Minute Maid Park on June 7. Craig
had his surgery in Vail,
With Albert Pujols gone, the Cardinals have more money with which to pursue an outfielder, with free agent Carlos Beltran an intriguing possibility.
RHP Octavio Dotel agreed to a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers despite voicing a desire to return to the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have discussed the availability of signing LHP Mike Gonzalez, a free agent reliever who finished last season with the Texas Rangers. Marc Rzepczynski is the only left-handed reliever on the roster, and general manager John Mozeliak has mentioned him as a candidate for the starting rotation should the club trade one of two right-handers, Kyle Lohse or Jake Westbrook, for salary relief.
BY THE NUMBERS: 445 - Career home runs for former 1B Albert Pujols, 30 short of Stan Musial's Cardinals record.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He should have been a Cardinal for life."
- Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, on the departure of Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Cardinals are coming off a World Series title, but general manager John Mozeliak realizes the big turnaround in the season came in late July and early August when the club changed 20 percent of its roster with five additions. There will be no standing pat, and that trend began three days after the World Series ended when manager Tony La Russa retired after 16 seasons. But now that first baseman Albert Pujols is gone, the Cardinals are entering a new era.
1B Albert Pujols (free agent, signed with Angels), RHP Octavio Dotel (free agent, signed with Tigers), C Gerald Laird (free agent, signed with Tigers).
The Cardinals need to address their second base situation, which finished with Skip Schumaker, who is arbitration-eligible. Schumaker, a converted outfielder, has improved at second base, but the Cardinals might not want to pay to keep him.
The Cardinals won't be
able to give
All except Motte, in theory, could be non-tendered. McClellan is the most likely to dealt. Either Schumaker or Theriot won't be back, and possibly both.
RHP Kyle McClellan, who moved back
to the bullpen when
RHP Adam Wainwright is
expected to go to Jupiter,