The Cardinals Major League Notebook

The Cardinals Major League Notebook

Brendan Ryan will be in the competition for the St. Louis Cardinals utility infielder job, a job held largely by the recently departed, Aaron Miles, who just signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Aaron Miles and Felipe Lopez got much of the time at second base for the Cardinals in the latter part of the 2008 season, but both are now gone.

Lopez, who hit .385 in two months with the Cardinals after being released by Washington, signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with Arizona. Miles, non-tendered for the second season in a row, received a two-year, $4.9 million contract from the Cubs.

That leaves Adam Kennedy, who played some outfield toward the end of the season, as the second baseman -- and relatively unchallenged, at that. Kennedy, who received $10 million for three years before the 2007 season, batted .280 in 339 at-bats last season after hitting only .219 the year before when he had knee problems.

The Cardinals had explored trading Kennedy, per his late-season request, but found little interest in him and have now decided to restore him as the regular at the position, with Khalil Greene, acquired from San Diego, as the shortstop.

The competition for the utility infielder job, a job held largely by Miles last year, will come from Brian Barden, Brendan Ryan, Tyler Greene and newcomer Joe Thurston, a left-handed hitter signed as a minor league free agent.

Ryan, impressive in his rookie season in 2007 when he hit .289 in part-time duty, regressed last year and fell from favor a bit when he batted .244 and was sent back to Class AAA Memphis. It appears the energetic 26-year-old will get another chance next spring.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--The Cardinals still are showing interest in free agent LHPs Randy Wolf and Oliver Perez.

--The arbitration-eligible players on the Cardinals' roster are OFs Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan and RHPs Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson. All but Duncan, who was injured last year, are likely to get significant salary bumps.

--INF Joe Thurston, a 29-year-old left-handed hitter, will have a shot at filling Aaron Miles' utility role after hitting .316 last year for Class AAA Pawtucket. Thurston has been playing well in Puerto Rico, where Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo is managing.

--Thirty-nine wins would give manager Tony La Russa 2,500 for his major league career. Only two managers -- Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) -- have won more games.

--For the eighth consecutive season, 1B Albert Pujols was named the St. Louis Baseball Man of the Year by the St. Louis Baseball Writers chapter, which will honor him at its 51st dinner on Jan. 19.

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 -- The longest hitting streak by a Cardinal in 2008 was 15 games, by Aaron Miles.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We understood the risk we took when we non-tendered him." -- GM John Mozeliak on INF Aaron Miles, who hit .317, signing with the Cubs.





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