The Cardinals may need to take a look at 34 year old free agent Rich Aurilia as a potential utility player.
As of this morning, Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said the team is still negotiating with Aurilia on a contract for 2006, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer report. "Both sides would like it resolved sooner than later," O'Brien said. The team has until January 9th to reach a deal with Aurilia.
The Cardinals’ infield is pretty well set with Pujols at first, Rolen at third, Eckstein at short and Junior Spivey is considered the front runner for the starting job at second base.
That leaves, Hector Luna, Deivi Cruz and Aaron Miles on the bench as potential reserves.
The problem I have is, who’s going to play third base if Rolen is slow out of the gate or sustains any type of injury?
I don’t get the warm fuzzies with the idea of Luna, Cruz or Miles taking the field at third base. Combined, they appeared in a total of 12 games at third base last season, Luna (7), Miles (0) and Cruz (5).
On the Cardinals official website, the depth chart at third base, shows Scott Rolen, backed up by Deivi Cruz and Scott Seabol.
Aaron Miles is basically a second basemen with very little experience playing anywhere else. Last season he played one game at short. Not the typical versatile utility player you expect to find on a St. Louis Cardinals bench.
Deivi Cruz has played a total of eight games at third base since 1997. At best Cruz is considered a middle infielder back up and he may find it even hard to get playing time in St. Louis.
Hector Luna appeared in seven games at third base for St. Louis last season, starting in four of them. That is the extent of his experience at third base. Early in December the Cardinals indicated Luna was the front runner for the starting job at second base. The signing of Junior Spivey probably delegates Luna back into a regular utility role.
Seabol started 14 games at third base for St. Louis last season and in 20 games he played at third, he made three errors for a fielding percentage of .929. To put it in perspective, that’s like playing third base with a Gold Glove not a Gold Glove type of performance. Scott was recently removed from the 40 man roster and not offered a new contract.
On the other hand, there is free agent, Rich Aurilia.
Last season Aurilia played in 114 games for the Cincinnati Reds, 68 games at second, 30 at shortstop and 18 games at third base. In 2004 he played mostly at third for the Padres, proving he has the arm and range to play effectively at any of these positions
The thing about the veteran Aurilia is, I’d feel a whole lot better with him and his value as a utility player on the bench over a Deivi Cruz or Aaron Miles.
Aurilia did not accept salary arbitration from the Cincinnati and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sign somewhere else.
The Reds have offered him a minor league contract and they have just one more week to reach an agreement.
Here is a look at his numbers from 2005;
The Cardinals may want to look at the possibility of offering a contract to Rich. It's another one of those low risk deals that could pay off.
Just a suggestion, Walt.