The Cardinals' clubhouse mix last year was cited as one of the reasons why the club was able to overcome a huge deficit not only to make the playoffs but to win the World Series. But, many key members of that team now are gone.
Among them are first baseman Albert Pujols, infielder Ryan Theriot, right-hander Edwin Jackson, right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel, left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, infielder Nick Punto and catcher Gerald Laird. And, of course, manager Tony La Russa also has left.
But general manager John Mozeliak believes the remaining players still will provide good chemistry. "I do think the leadership we have on hand for the coming season made up a lot of the core strength we enjoyed last year," said Mozeliak. "But I would agree that you can never take those things for granted. It's something you work on from Day 1."
Lance Berkman, the outfielder/first baseman who helped keep the clubhouse loose last season, also acknowledged the importance of harmony.
"I don't think you can discount it entirely," Berkman said. "It's a special mix of guys. Everybody adds something to that. Whenever you start subtracting pieces, those guys are going to be missed. But I do believe we have a lot of high-character guys remaining. There are a lot of guys who are going to drive this thing. It's just going to be different."
"I'm not a loud yeller," said Holliday. "But I'm not afraid to talk to young players about things.
"I'm available for whatever is asked of me. I work for the St. Louis Cardinals and, if the job description changes and more is asked of me, that's part of my job."
LHP J.C. Romero, an offseason signing, said he had reached a legal settlement in his three-year battle regarding a tainted supplement he had taken. Romero, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, had been forced to serve a 50-game suspension at the start of the 2009 season but had argued that he hadn't knowingly ingested the substance. "My job was to fight to the end and clear my name," said Romero. "I achieved that."
SS Rafael Furcal will retain No. 15 this season, even though OF Carlos Beltran, who also has worn that number, has signed on. Beltran said he planned to wear No. 3, which had belonged to departed INF Ryan Theriot last season.
RHP Mitchell Boggs had an up-and-down 2011 season in which he both relieved at the major league level, even closing for a couple of weeks, and then started for several weeks in the minors. He likely figures in the mix as a reliever this season and said, "I feel like I've got a lot to prove this year. I feel like I can be great … I look forward to backing that up."
INF Tyler Greene, who has
been unable to stick in the majors for a full season—although he has played with
the Cardinals in parts of three seasons—has a chance at winning at least part of
the 2B job this spring. "We do want to see
RHP Adam Wainwright, out
last season after Tommy John elbow surgery, already is immersed in a throwing
program in Jupiter,
BY THE NUMBERS: .175 - RHP Kyle Lohse's 2011 batting average, highest for a returning Cardinals SP.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We understand that we put our best foot forward and it didn't work out."
- General manager John Mozeliak, talking to fans about the failed negotiations to retain free-agent 1B Albert Pujols.
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
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).
RHP Edwin Jackson, OF Corey Patterson, LHP Arthur Rhodes, INF Ryan Theriot.
RHP Jason Motte.
OF Allen Craig (knee surgery) is out until May.
RHP Adam Wainwright is in