The Cardinals' shopping list
before the end of the holiday season basically had shrunk to one purchase -- an
outfielder either to play on a regular basis or as a part-time player.
They decided to go for a
regular. But they got much more than just any regular.
The Cardinals used some
of the money they saved from not having to pay Albert Pujols by signing free
agent right fielder Carlos Beltran to a two-year, $26 million contract. The deal
includes a full no-trade clause.
Allen Craig, who had been
the projected right fielder, is out until perhaps May after knee surgery. When
Craig returns, Beltran could slide over to center field although his stated
preference is right field.
Beltran was a tormentor
of the Cardinals when he played for Houston, especially in the 2004 National League
Championship Series. Formerly a Gold Glove center fielder, Beltran played right
field last season after recovering from knee surgery.
"Beltran is a proven
outfielder who obviously has been a tough opponent against the Cardinals for
many years," St.
Louis general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement.
"It is going to be nice to have his bat and competitive nature working for us
instead of on the other side of the field for the next couple of
The Cardinals would
prefer to have a right-handed hitting option to left-handed hitting Jon Jay,
their regular center fielder, against left-handed pitching. The Cardinals will
have two switch hitters in the middle of the order with Beltran and first
baseman Lance Berkman.
RHP Kyle McClellan, who
won five games as a starter and seven as a reliever last season, is likely to
find himself back in the bullpen next spring after having been conditioned to be
a starter the last couple of springs. There is a late inning opening with RHP
Octavio Dotel having signed with the Tigers.
C Bryan Anderson, who has
been found wanting in previous brief exposures with the Cardinals, might receive
a longer look as a potential backup this spring. New manager Mike Matheny, who
worked with Anderson as an instructor the last
couple of seasons, has noted what he deemed a defensive improvement in Anderson. So far,
right-handed batting Tony Cruz, who was impressive with the bat in limited duty
last season, is the backup to four-time Gold Glover Yadier Molina.
C Gerald Laird, the 2011
backup to Molina, has returned to the Detroit Tigers. Laird hit .232 with one
homer in 95 at-bats in 2011.
RHP Shelby Miller, named
the organization's minor league pitcher of the year for the second consecutive
season, figures to get a shot to start several Grapefruit League games with the
major league club before likely going to Class AAA Memphis. Miller, only 22,
could find his way onto the major league roster later in the season, though.
1B/OF Lance Berkman has
been penciled in at first base for the coming season, replacing the departed
Albert Pujols. Berkman has been a first baseman for most of the latter half of
his career, so it should be a comfortable move.
BY THE NUMBERS: 46 -
Games finished, a staff high, by reliever Fernando Salas last season. He also
had a staff-best 24 saves but was not the closer at the end of the
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Signing
players is about value and markets. So we are open to fair
- GM John Mozeliak,
before signing OF Carlos Beltran to a two-year, $26 million
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. Now that first baseman
Albert Pujols is gone, the Cardinals are entering a new era, and they replaced
some of Pujols' offense by signing OF Carlos Beltran.
OF Carlos Beltran (free agent from
Giants), LHP J.C. Romero (free agent from Rockies).
1B Albert Pujols (free agent,
signed with Angels), RHP Octavio Dotel (free agent, signed with Tigers), C
Gerald Laird (free agent, signed with Tigers), INF Nick Punto (free agent,
signed with Red Sox).
RHPs Edwin Jackson, OF
Corey Patterson, LHP Arthur Rhodes, INF Ryan Theriot.
RHP Kyle McClellan, RP
OF Allen Craig (knee
surgery) is out until May.
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.