In Albert Pujols' 11 seasons in
St. Louis, the
Cardinals were the most successful team in the National League. They played in
three World Series, winning two, and participated in the playoffs eight times.
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 Houston, and the knee
never did respond properly although Craig was a postseason hero anyway.
"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
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
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
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
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
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, Colo., at The Steadman Clinic, and his
recovery time was pegged at four to six months, meaning he could be out until
May. But Craig said, "The six months is at the far end of the spectrum. Barring
a setback, (the doctors) are confident that it will take four to five months."
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 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
BY THE NUMBERS: 445 -
Career home runs for former 1B Albert Pujols, 30 short of Stan Musial's
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
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.
RHPs Edwin Jackson, OF
Corey Patterson, INF Nick Punto, LHP Arthur Rhodes.
The Cardinals won't be
able to give Jackson a long-term deal. Rhodes is next most likely to be sought after by the
Cardinals, but there won't be much money for him.
2B/OF Skip Schumaker, RHP
Kyle McClellan, RHP Jason Motte, INF Ryan Theriot.
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 Jackson was acquired, is in competition with
several young right-handed relievers who are less expensive. He wouldn't go back
to the rotation, either, with the expected return of RHP Adam Wainwright, who
missed 2011 with Tommy John elbow surgery. INF Tyler Greene, who had a strong
Class AAA performance and who was going to get a late season look until the
Cardinals got back into playoff contention, could be a trade candidate if the
club doesn't figure to have a role for him. In limited duty with the Cardinals,
Greene led the club in steals with 11 (in 11 attempts).
RHP Adam Wainwright is
expected to go to Jupiter, Fla., just after Jan. 1 to begin throwing in
earnest. He expects to be ready for spring training.